Tag Archives: Justin Watrel

Day One Hundred and Fifty-Seven Christmas Again in the blink of an eye November 23rd, 2019-January 10th, 2020

I have never seen a holiday come and go so fast that it zoomed by. We had one less weekend this year in the month of December before Christmas and it seemed to set everyone in a panic. I have seen holidays fly by but this one was for the records. It seemed that everyone crammed in as much as they could the first two weekends of December and did not come up for breath.

I was no different as work took up everything leading to Halloween and then boom, five weeks later there was Thanksgiving and Sinterklaas. As I wrote in earlier blogs, we went from 71 degrees on Halloween Parade to 25 degrees five weeks later for the Sinterklaas Parade. You just can’t predict the weather.

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The Puppet Rehearsals started my Holiday Season in early October

Visit the blog “Day One Hundred and Fifty Three: “Halloween Again”:

https://mywalkinmanhattan.com/2019/11/19/day-one-hundred-and-fifty-one-heres-halloween-again-october-31st-2019/

After my class’s presentation in Paterson, I left the next day for Florida to visit friends and family. There were some concerns with my friends and I wanted to be sure that they were okay and then I wanted to spend time with my brother and niece. After that I traveled to visit my mother for her birthday so it was a nice visit.

It was also a good working vacation too as I added on new stores to my LittleShoponMainStreet@Wordpress.com site and new museums on my VisitingaMuseum.com site:

See the new Museums I explored:

https://visitingamuseum.com/

Cummer Museum.jpg

The Cummer Museum in Jacksonville, Fl was recently added to my blog among  others were updated.

https://wordpress.com/post/visitingamuseum.com/3810

MOCA Jacksonville, FL

The MOCA-Museum of Contemporary Art in Jacksonville, FL was interesting

https://wordpress.com/post/visitingamuseum.com/3836

 

See the new shops that I added:

https://littleshoponmainstreet.wordpress.com/

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The innovative pet store, “Bark” in Jacksonville, Fl was added to my retail site as well as some sites were revisited.

It was also a good vacation because after the Bergecco-Parc Consulting Inc. presentation in Paterson, NJ was behind me, it was a big sigh of relief. As I said in that blog (Day One Hundred and Fifty-Eight), it was a lot of work and stress for all of us right before Thanksgiving but it was the best time to present it because the students could relax over the holidays and be proud of what they accomplished.

Bergecco-Parc Consulting Inc. Paterson Project

My Business 101 class at City Hall for their presentation “Take me Back to Paterson,NJ”

Visit the site: “Day One Hundred and Fifty-Eight: Bergecco-Parc Consulting Inc. Presents:

https://mywalkinmanhattan.com/2020/01/12/day-one-hundred-and-fifty-five-bergecco-parc-consulting-inc-presents-take-me-back-to-paterson-new-jersey-introduction-to-business-101-bergen-community-college-november/

When I returned home from Florida on my business/vacation trip, it was full steam ahead with the holidays. I promised myself this year that I would cut back on a lot of the get togethers and events to attend and I stuck by it. Still there was a lot to see and do and things I wanted my readers to know on my blogs.

The holiday season this year though started without me.  I was not home for the Christmas tree drop off for the Men’s Association, the Annual Holiday Parade in Hasbrouck Heights and our Department Party for the Fire Department and the Holiday Party for the Bergen County Firemen’s Home Association. I was away that first weekend visiting friends and family and work on this blog. I got into the spirit and the holiday rush when I returned.

The holiday season started for me the first Saturday of December with marching in the Annual Sinterklaas Parade in Rhinebeck. I am now going on my seventh year participating in the parade and almost a decade of being up in Rhinebeck, NY.

Rhinebeck, NY like the rest of the Hudson River Valley is just magical at the holidays from Halloween to New Year’s. Downtown Rhinebeck is picturesque like a modern Currier & Ives print with the twinkling white lights, the Sinterklaas paintings attached to the trees and the beautifully decorated retail windows which showcase their goods and the parade stars.

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Rhinebeck, NY is magical at Christmas

I was so busy working in the morning with my Introduction to Business class on the wrap up of their project and preparing them for their final exam that I did not get up to Rhinebeck until 2:30pm so I missed the whole puppet set-up.

It was really cold the day of the parade and must have been around 38 degrees even with the sun. I did not see as many people as the last two years and you could actually walk the streets. The police closed off the main street so you could finally walk around Downtown Rhinebeck with no problems.

All along the streets and alleyways were entertainers, bands, costumed characters and people on stilts talking to people and engaging the crowds. The one thing I have to say is that it was getting colder and colder as the day went on. I felt for the people in costume who had to deal with this weather.

I wrote more about my afternoon at the parade on Day One Hundred and Fifty Six: The Sinterklaas Parade:

https://wordpress.com/post/mywalkinmanhattan.com/11227

You can see me in the corner of the Sinterklaas Parade near Mother Earth in the Cornell Hat in the 2018 parade and the 2019 parade

That Saturday evening it went down to almost 24 degrees and it got cold! Even with four layers, I could see my breath right in front of me. That didn’t stop the crowds. They were five deep for the parade which like every year it magical. Between all the colors, lights, floats and stars hanging from poles along the parade route it adds to the excitement of Sinterklaas coming to town.

I was working in the star forest by the Mother Earth float so I was toward the back of the parade so I could see most everything from the hill overlooking Downtown Rhinebeck. It is something to see the parade from the parade itself up on the hill. The whole town is ablaze with energy as each band and dance team performs.

I loved the looks on the kids faces as all the puppets lean into the crowds. Then right behind us the crowd follows the parade into the parking lot to enjoy the show. This is when the crowd dispersed.

I have never seen a crowd clear up as we rounded the corner and dropped off our puppets. The other people I worked with went home and after the show and the fire performers finished the last of the crowd dispersed. I just wanted to walk around the town one more time before I left town.

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The parade is magical when the puppets enter Downtown Rhinebeck

By the time finished my walk around town, it must have dropped to 22 degrees and everyone was off the streets. It got so quiet in Rhinebeck. The restaurants were still dealing with the crowds but not as busy as I remembered the last two years. When I had a slice of pizza at Village Pizza at 119 East Market Street (see review on TripAdvisor), the place was quiet which not normal that night. You could still get a seat. It was worth it though as their pizza is delicious.

I got home late that night and I will tell you that it got colder that night. The windows of the car really froze up. Normally I would spend the night but I had to visit a series of decorated mansions to visit, a few holiday events at museums and an Afternoon Tea at the Ballantine Mansion at the Newark Museum.

The next day was a whirlwind of activity as I ran from one activity to another. Because of having one less weekend before Christmas all the organizations were having their events the first Saturday and Sunday of December so I had to plan my visits like D-Day. I wanted to be able to update my VisitingaMuseum.com blog with visits to all the holiday events. It was too much in one day but I did it.

I started that Sunday at the Lodi, NJ VFW for the Knights of Columbus monthly breakfast. For $6.00, I had to load up on the carbs because I would not be eating until 4:00pm. The Knights of Columbus know how to make breakfast and I loaded up on scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage, pancakes and French Toast and potatoes before my long day of running around. The discussion amongst all of us was how we were all tired of Christmas and it had not even arrived yet. It just seemed that everyone else like me was running from one thing to another.

My first stop that morning was the the Boonton Historical Society at 210 Main Street in Boonton, NJ (see reviews on TripAdvisor and VisitingaMuseum.com). I had visited earlier in October after a Bergen County Firemen’s Home Association meeting and they had mentioned this get together. It was a very nice event.

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The Boonton Historical Society at 210 Main Street

The Historical Society had a few local musicians and entertainers playing to the crowd and a nice assortment of small appetizers and cookies to nibble on while you walked around the displays. It is a nice place to get insights on the development of the iron industry in New Jersey plus the growth of business in the State. They also had a nice exhibition on the Trolley system in New Jersey.

The next stop was the Holiday Festival at the Hopper-Goetschius House at 245 Lake Street in Upper Saddle River, NJ. The Historical Society of Upper Saddle River ran this engaging little festival which was a lot of fun. The weather had broke and it was sunny and a pleasant 48 degrees out.

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Santa in the Dutch Barn at the Hooper-Goetschius House

You could visit Santa in the Dutch barn, participate in historical games in the schoolhouse, watch a demonstration of blacksmith work, eat fresh popcorn and chestnuts that were cooked over an open fire the outdoor kitchen and tour the house itself which was decorated for a Victorian Christmas.

There were tours of the house, story telling in the dining room, classical music being played in the palour and fresh Christmas cookies and hot apple cider in the Colonial kitchen which dates back to the late 1700’s. they really did a nice job but then it was off to the next site, the Newark Museum for Afternoon Tea at the Ballantine House.

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The Ballantine House at the Newark Museum was decorated for Christmas as “Mrs. Ballantine’s Christmas Eve Open House”

If you ever drove from Boonton to Upper Saddle River to Newark in one afternoon, it is a lot of running around and a lot of driving through traffic during the holidays. Thank God all of these events were on a Sunday when the malls are closed (Bergen County, NJ has strict Blue Laws).

I got there just as they started serving tea and the room was packed with people. The event was held on the top floor of the old Ballatine Mansion which is part of the Newark Museum. It had once been the attic of the house which Mrs. Ballatine converted into an apartment for her married daughter and her family. It now serves as the Trustees Room.

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The Newark Museum at 49 Washington Street in Newark, NJ. The Ballantine House is to the right.

That was a very nice afternoon of nice conversation with other guests, wonderful food (the sandwiches and pastries were plentiful on the table) and an interesting talk on the history of the Ballantine Mansion and the family. After the tea was over, we were lead on a special out of the mansion which was decorated for the Christmas holidays circa 1890. It must have been a pleasant affair for the family as the day started with church services and then a Christmas luncheon.

After the talk, it was back to the house again and changing clothes and selling Christmas trees from six to ten that evening. We only sold five trees that night and I was so happy that after 8:00pm we had no customers and I could just sit by the fire and relax. I was all ‘Christmased’ out that day. It was just nice to sit and smell the pine trees. I was happy when the day was over. Fun yes but I was tired from all the driving. That was just the first weekend.

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Selling Christmas trees is part of the our fundraising for the Hasbrouck Heights Men’s Association. I have been doing this for twenty years.

Here’s me promoting the event:

 

The second week was just as busy. I ran two holidays parties at work. One group not many people attended so it was just the four of us. Still it was nice. The other group I had twenty people in wheelchairs who we ‘wined and dined’. Each one of us baked something, we arranged to have gifts for all the residents of the facility I work with and then I made a big batch of stuffed shells and made a dessert tray as a gift so that the residents had something from me to take back to their rooms. I have never seen a group of people light up and be their old selves. Living in a nursing facility is hard but I think we did bring ‘Santa’ back in their lives that afternoon.

We had another wonderful lunch at work with a full turkey dinner and a lot of well wishes and then the rains came for two days and did not let up. So we had to change the day of our Men’s Association Christmas party to the next night and I ended up having a nice time.

HHMA Christmas Tree Set Up 2017

Setting up the Christmas trees

We all huddled around a fire and talked about the past year and the success of the Christmas tree sale. This will mean more scholarships in the future to our students and hopefully more future customers.  People believe in what we are trying to achieve. The pot luck brings in everyone’s creativity and we had a nice meal.

The second weekend came and went as fast as the first. I gave my final exam in the morning to my class and for the most part everyone did well. I think we were all relieved when the class was over. They left as soon as they were done. I went off  to sell Christmas trees in the afternoon and there was only thirty one trees when I left.

I went off to a historical Christmas event at the Bergen County Historical Society at 1202 Main Street in Riveredge, NJ. They had the whole complex decorated for a Colonial Christmas. It was enchanting with the candles in the windows and people in costume walking around the buildings. In the Campbell-Christi House they had set up a Colonial era pub so you could have dinner with a modern twist to pub food including Shepard’s Pie, Mac & Cheese, a dessert plate and fried doughnuts It was all served by people in costume.

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The Van Steuben House, part of the Bergen County Historical Society

https://wordpress.com/post/visitingamuseum.com/872

https://wordpress.com/post/visitingamuseum.com/531

Then you were walked down to the Van Steuben House near the river for entertainment. Performer Linda Russell and her group sang traditional songs that would have been sang during the holidays.

Unlike the Victorian Christmas’s of a hundred years in the future, Christmas after the Revolutionary War was quite simple. Houses were decorated with holly, mistletoe and garland and there were church services in the morning with a lunch afterwards. Things like presents and Santa would not come until after the Civil War.

 

One of Linda Russell’s most popular songs

Performer Linda Russell performed traditional Christmas songs that were sung of that era in the main room of the Van Steuben House where General George Washington had stayed during his time in the Bergen County during the Revolutionary War. She lead a lecture and in song how people enjoyed themselves on those cold nights. It was a nice insight on the early holidays.

The next morning was a long trip up to the Hudson River Valley to visit some of the decorated mansions of the area. My first stop was Germantown to visit Clermont, the homestead of the Livingston family at County Route 6 (see review on TripAdvisor and VisitingaMuseum.com below). The house was beautifully decorated with garland and trees and was being set up that evening for the house’s ‘Candlelight Tour’, where actors in costume performed as guests. I came up before the event on one of the middle tours and got a personal tour of the house.

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Clermont, the home of the Livingston Family

https://wordpress.com/post/visitingamuseum.com/3928

The house sits frozen in time when it was donated to the State of New York with period furnishings and family heirlooms decorating the rooms and walls of the home. It was decorated with rows of garland, holly and mistletoe like most homes of the era and lavish Christmas trees in certain rooms. The formal dining room table was set of the holiday dinner.

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The formal dining room at Clermont

The tour including the history of the Livingston family in the area and in the country and the influence that the house had during both the Revolutionary and Civil Wars. Then there was a discussion of the people that lived here and their stories. It is an interesting tour.

My next stop before the afternoon was over was a tour of Wilderstein at 330 Morton Road in Rhinebeck, the home of the Suckley family, who were relations of the Roosevelts and Livingston’s. I had visited the beautiful decorated mansion many times in the past and on a glorious sunny day, the view of the Hudson River from this spot is spectacular.

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The Wilderstein Mansion in Rhinebeck, NY

https://wordpress.com/post/visitingamuseum.com/1642

Only the first floor of the mansion is open for tours and was elegantly decorated for the holidays. Ms. Suckley lived into her 90’s and dwelled only on the first floor in the end so the house is pretty much intact from the Victorian era. She kept the house immaculate and restorations continued. You could tour the living room, dining room, front palour, entrance hall and library which were decorated in holly, garland and Christmas trees with gifts in two of the rooms. Like the other mansions it was decorated for formal dinner.

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The elegant dining room at Wilderstein

By the time I got home that evening, we had sold out of Christmas tree for the Men’s Association and we closed the stand down for the season.

As classes geared down to their last day and work was pretty much over for the semester at the college, I concentrated on MywalkinManhattan blog and visiting as many cultural and historical sites that I could to update my VisitingaMuseum site. There are a lot of places to visit and things to see during the holidays in the New York City area and I wanted to share this with readers all over the world.

I revisited some sites in New York the day of the Holy Apostles Holiday Party that I went to for the work in the soup kitchen that I try to do once a week. During the day, I went back to Central Park South to finish walking part of the neighborhood and then walked across Manhattan to visit the Mount Vernon Hotel & Museum at 421 East 61st Street.

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The Mount Vernon Hotel Museum at 421 East 61st Street in Manhattan

https://wordpress.com/post/visitingamuseum.com/2191

The museum was once a day hotel during the early 1800’s which means that you just went there for the afternoon and early evening for activities and lunch which was considered dinner back then. The house was open for tours to see it decorated for the Colonial holidays.

The main rooms has holly and garland all over the banisters as they were preparing for the Christmas holidays and the main dining room was set for a holiday luncheon. Foods that the visitors might have eaten at the noon time meal including turkey, oysters, fresh fruits and vegetables and apple and pumpkin pies. They did a nice job interpreting the meal.

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Meal at noontime at the Mount Vernon Hotel

Later that afternoon I stopped by the Metropolitan Museum of Art to see the Christmas tree that they set up every year. I have been it hundreds of times over the years but I never like to miss it.

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The Christmas Tree at the Metropolitan Museum of Art

I also visited the Origami Tree at the American Museum of Natural History for about ten minutes before the crowds at the museum forced me out. It was packed during the holiday break.

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The Origami Tree at the American Museum of Natural History

https://www.amnh.org/exhibitions/origami-holiday-tree

That evening we had the Holy Apostles Holiday party at the Church of the Holy Apostles and it was a very nice evening. We had a complete Italian dinner with salads and desserts and the music provided by the Avenue’s (a local private school) Jazz Band. These kids are wonderful and can really play. It was a nice evening and a good way to end a very busy year in the Soup Kitchen. It just keeps getting busier with the needs changing.

On Friday night before Christmas, I was finishing my walk of the Central Park South neighborhood businesses and the evening treated myself to a Christmas concert at Carnegie Hall which was appropriate since I spent so much time in the neighborhood. It is such a beautiful building inside and out.

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I love Carnegie Hall at Christmas

I went to the show “A Frank and Ella Christmas” with performers Tony DeSare and Capathia Jenkins who performed the tunes of Frank Sinatra and Ella Fitzgerald. I love to see Carnegie Hall when it is lit for the holidays and decorated on stage. It really puts you in the Christmas spirit. Essential Voices USA were the back up vocals that evening and it was a wonderful concert. They sang all the classic songs with Santa leading a sing-a-long at the end of the concert.

Here is Tony DeSare singing “I’ll be home for Christmas”  as he did in the concert

They sang all the traditional songs such as “It’s the most wonderful time of the Year” and “Jingle Bells” and this beautiful version of “I’ll be home for Christmas”. The sing a long ended the concert with “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer”, “Frosty the Snowman”, “Here comes Santa Claus” and ended with “Jingle Bells”. It really got the audience moving and everyone was humming as they left the theater. I walked across the street to see the building decorated with wreaths and garland and lit in full view. It is quite a site at the holidays. After that I headed home. The next morning was the last day of class.

I gave out my grades the next morning. Class had finally ended and it had been an interesting semester. I had a ball with my students. Who ever thought we would present a project at Paterson City Hall? I did not. Most of my students told me how they loved the experience. That made me feel good right before the holidays.

Sunday brought us “Santa Around Town” our annual romp around Hasbrouck Heights, NJ with the Hasbrouck Heights Fire Department. It was such a beautiful and we really lucked out with the weather. It must have been 50 degrees when we started the event and a sunny afternoon.

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“Santa Around Town” with the Hasbrouck Heights Fire Department December 22nd, 2019

We stopped at ten stops around town greeting families and their pets to an evening with Santa Claus. People get such a kick out of it. We have families that come every year and some plan their holiday parties around the event. I always find it excellent outreach to the community and like to watch the children’s faces when they take a picture with Santa. I also enjoy when people have their dogs take a picture with Santa. I get a kick out of that. It was a busy evening and we did not get back to the firehouse until 8:00pm.

See my write up on the Brothers of Engine One HHFD:

https://wordpress.com/post/engineonehasbrouckheightsfiredepartmentnj.wordpress.com/498

I had a lunch with a good friend at Sanducci’s Italian Restaurant (my review on TripAdvisor) the day before I left for my mother’s for Christmas and this has become our Christmas tradition. It was nice to catch up with her not realizing that it had been over a year since we saw one another. It is strange how fast it all goes.

I spent Christmas Eve morning visiting the cemeteries starting with my aunt and cousin in one place, then one set of grandparents in another and then visiting my second set of grandparents, my uncle and then my father, which is always the toughest at the last cemetery. I am not sure what people feel about paying your respects at the holidays but I feel it is very important. I do believe it keeps them alive at the holidays.

The it was off to my mother’s for Christmas. It is the one time of the year all three of us get together with my mother. Since my father’s passing, my brothers and I have tried to spend the holidays together. Since we are coming from all over the country it can be hard but well worth it. We have such a good time at my mom’s.

 

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My brothers and I on Christmas Day

We get together as a family on Christmas Eve night for dinner at a Chinese restaurant which is a lot of fun. The owners know my mother really well so we get treated very well and they always treat us to a special dish or appetizer which I think is good business. I go the restaurant pretty much every trip I make to my mom’s because she loves going there so much. When we got home, we just talked most of the night and caught up with what was going on in our lives.

Christmas Day was very nice. We got up late and had breakfast and then exchanged smaller gifts (most of my gifts were emailed off ahead of time) while the fire was going and we played Christmas songs. My brother’s dog got in on the action and she just played along with a toy my older brother bought her.

My mother, the amazing cook that she is made a delicious tenderloin, homemade lasagna, salad and garlic bread. It’s great to have a mother who can cook. We sat around the table with my family and friend’s of my mom reminiscing about Christmas’s past. It was a nice evening and a nice way to spend Christmas Day.

Before I left my mom’s to head home to attend the Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium to root on Michigan State University, my mother, brother and I went to lunch at a local restaurant in Downtown Lewes called the Striper Bites (see review on TripAdvisor) that she had wanted to try and I had wanted to review. The food is wonderful yet I am the only one who can go to a seafood restaurant and crave a hamburger which was delicious.

We also visited the store, Fairy Godmother at 103 Second Street in Lewes that I featured on my blog, LittleShoponMainStreet@Wordpress.com. This adorable children’s store should not be missed. It has the most original merchandise for infants and toddlers.

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Fairy Godmother is at 103 Second Street in Lewes

I was looking forward to the Pinstripe Bowl since they announced it a few weeks earlier that my Alma Mater, Michigan State University, was going to play at Yankee Stadium. It was warm but rather gloomy day that the game was played.  I had gotten to the stadium early for the Alumni Tailgate up in one of the suites. It was really nice as the cheerleaders and band came up to spread the cheer and we also got to meet the new President of the MSU, President Samuel Stanley.

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The New Era Pinstripe Bowl is at Yankee Stadium every year. It was Michigan State University versus Wake Forest University

It was a nice afternoon with all sorts of stadium foods to choose from like hot dogs, hamburger sliders, mac & cheese, French fries and a barely touched salad. They served assorted cookies and brownies for dessert so I was not hungry for the rest of the day.

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Here comes MSU: Go GREEN/GO WHITE

Then all of us got to our seats and it was let the game begin. I have to say it was a nail-biter all the way to the end as it was not a high scoring game. We had some great plays one of the best one being one of our players, Mike Panasuik, knocked the ball from Wake Forest and ran in for a touchdown. It happened so fast the other team did not have time to react. That was the turning point of the game.

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Mike Panasuik getting the interception that changed the game

It was a very rough ending to the game as no one scored in the last quarter and we won the game 27-21. I could see by the other Alumni we were glad the game was finally over. It was a spirited ending though with the presentation of the trophy and our Quarterback Brian Lewerke getting MVP of the game and setting a school record. It was nice way to end his time at Michigan State and a nice win for the college.

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Winning the Pinstripe Bowl

Highlights from the Pinstripe Bowl 2019

 

The remainder of the week before the New Year it was like one long road trip visiting decorated mansions for my blog, ‘VisitingaMuseum.com’. I have never put so many miles on my car before and made so many trips up to the Hudson River Valley (I am beginning to think that I need a weekend home up there) I feel like it is my second home.

Because of the extensive list of homes I visited, you can see their history’s and write ups on my blog VisitingaMuseum.com:

https://visitingamuseum.com/

These are the mansions I visited during the week between Christmas and New Year’s:

The only time that you can visit The Skylands Manor at 5 Morris Road in Ringwood, NJ is the first week in December when they decorate the house for Christmas. During the rest of the year, it is used for catering and an inn.

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The Skylands Manor in Ringwood, NJ has a beautiful location

https://wordpress.com/post/visitingamuseum.com/2641

The Skylands Manor is decorated by various Garden Clubs and individual organizations. Because of a snow storm that hit the week before the mansion did not seem as decorated as it had in previous years. Still the entrance way and main hallway were very originally decorated.

Skylands Manor 2019

The garden clubs do such a good job decorating the house. Each use their members own ideas and the amazing part is that they have one week to get it all up and two days to take it down and get it out of the house before it is used again.

The next weekend I travel led to Ringwood Manor at 1304 Sloatsburg Road in Ringwood, NJ right around the corner from the Skylands Manor. This lavish display is done by the Friends of Ringwood Manor who also run the cafe and the barn where artwork and gifts are sold. The home of the Hewitt family is in the process of being restored and are raising funds for a new roof.

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The Ringwood Manor in Ringwood, NJ

https://wordpress.com/post/visitingamuseum.com/2621

Ringwood Manor Christmas 2019

The Sun Room decorated at Ringwood Manor in Ringwood, NJ

The lavish display at Ringwood Manor is not how the house would have looked but is a nice interpretation of many ideas that can be coordinated into anyone’s home. I don’t think people would have decorated every room like this but the Friends do such a great job and have such original ideas I never like to miss this house at the holidays.

When returning from Ringwood, NJ from visiting the mansions and in the summer the Botanical Gardens, make a pit stop at Auntie El’s Farm at 171 Route 17 South in Sloatsburg, NY to eat.  They have the best baked goods, pies and jellies.

During the holidays I like to go up just for their cider doughnuts, which are still warm when you buy them ($1.00) or their cake truffles ($3.00) which are rich and decadent. Their Caramel Apple Pie ($12.00) was a little rich for me but still delicious. I feature them prominently on my site LittleShoponMainStreet@Wordpress.com.

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Auntie El’s Farm Market is such a great experience at Christmas

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The baked goods and those delicious doughnuts make the trip up to Ringwood, NJ very special

The Hermitage at 335 North Franklin Turnpike in Ho Ho Kus, NJ is one of the most famous mansions in Bergen County being the home of Theodosa Prevost and her second husband, Aaron Burr. The house was the headquarters for General George Washington at Mrs. Prevost request who she herself was afraid of losing her home.

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The Hermitage in Ho Ho Kus, NJ

https://wordpress.com/post/visitingamuseum.com/1566

The house was decorated for the Victorian Christmas holidays a big difference from the year before when its them was a ‘Depression Christmas’. The house was nicely but sparsely decorated that year reflecting the times. Here it was all garland on the banisters and archways and set for a formal Christmas dinner.

Herimtage at Christmas

Here is some the era’s clothing for the event

I followed the map of Hudson River decorated homes for the holidays and went one by one until Christmas Eve. My first trip including Boscobel at 1601 Route 9D in Garrison, NY , a mansion in Cold Springs, NY.

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https://wordpress.com/post/visitingamuseum.com/4015

The house was beautifully decorated for the holidays and has the most interesting gardens.

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The next home I visited was Mount Gulian in Beacon, NY at 145 Sterling Street. This historic home was used as headquarters for the Revolutionary War and the where the Society of Cincinnati was formed as a Veterans group. The original house burned to the ground in 1931 and this is a recreation.

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https://wordpress.com/post/visitingamuseum.com/4103

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They were just taking the decorations down at Mount Gulian but this home was a major point of refuge during the Revolutionary War.

On my next trip up to the Hudson River Valley, I visited some of the NY State Park sites starting with Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s home Springwood at 4097 Albany Post Road in Hyde Park, NY. The house is going to start a major renovation which our tour guide said it needed and will close April of 2020. As we were touring, they were removing books in the library and the only part of the house that was decorated for the holidays was a Christmas tree in the library.

Springfield

https://wordpress.com/post/visitingamuseum.com/2676

Springwood Estate II.jpg

The library at Springwood was the only part of the house that was decorated at that point. It looked really elegant in the wood paneled room but the room is slowly being taken apart. The house will close in April 2020 and reopen about a year and a half later so see it now before the closing.

The Vanderbilt Mansion and Estate at 4097 Albany Post Road in Hyde Park the next estate over was also starting to close for the holidays. I got there on the first tour of the day so I got to see it before most of the rooms were taken apart.

Vanderbilt Estate

https://wordpress.com/post/visitingamuseum.com/2200

The home of Fredrick and Louise Vanderbilt was decorated to the hilt for the holidays considering when Louise was alive they closed the house up and moved to New York City for the Social Season.

Vanderbilt Mansion Hyde Park III.jpg

The entrance foyer of the mansion was beautifully decorated for the holidays and there was flowers and garland all over the house.

The Mills Mansion (Staatsburg State Historic Site)  at 75 Mills Mansion Drive in Staatsburg, NY was decorated to the hilt for the holidays. I usually attend the fundraising cocktail party here right before the holidays but the weather was so bad that night, I did not venture the trip so I came right after the holidays.

Mills Mansion.jpg

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The Mills Mansion is always decorated to the hilt by the Friends of Mills Mansion and each room in the house has its own character. Like most of the homes in the area, Ruth and Ogden Mills did not stay here too many times for the holidays.

Mills Mansion Christmas II.jpg

The formal Dining Room at the Mills Mansion is elaborate.

The home of Samuel Morse ‘Locust Grove’ at 2683 South Road (Route 9) in Poughkeepsie, NY was down the road from some of the more popular mansions. The home of Artist Samuel Morse and creator of the Morse Code and Cable lines owned this beautiful home as his ‘summer cottage’.

locust-grove-historic-site.png

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The Locust Grove estate is at the start of the big commercial district of Route 9 South so please watch for the turn off as it is sharp and you may miss it.

Locust Grove III.jpg

Locust Grove was another home that was not used during the holidays by the family but more as the summer family retreat until Samuel Morse died and then it was sold to another family who lived locally. Still the mansion is beautifully decorated.

The last of the mansion’s I visited before the New Year was the Van Cortlandt House & Museum at Broadway and 246th Street in Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx. This beautiful home was the seat of the Van Cortlandt estate before the family sale in the late 1880’s. The family had several homes at this point in the New York area.

Van Cortlandt House IV.jpg

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The Van Cortlandt family had this home since before the Revolutionary War and the estate had been in the family for about five generations. The house was decorated for the post -Revolutionary War era Christmas with garlands, mistletoe, holly and berries all over the house. You can take the tour on your own.

Van Cortlandt House V.jpg

The palour at the Van Cortlandt House was decorated with garlands and berries and the outside of the home was covered with wreathes.

I walked down Broadway and visited the Dyckman Farmhouse Museum at 4881 Broadway at 204th Street to see how the house was decorated for a Dutch Christmas. It was plainly decorated with some garland here and there. Like the tour guide said to me that this was a working farm before the Revolutionary War and things would have been plainer here.

Dyckman Farmhouse I

The Dyckman Farmhouse in Inwood

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Dyckman Farm House V

Even though a traditional Dutch Christmas was not a big part of the home, it was interesting to see the everyday life of the traditional Dutch farmer in that era

My last stop that afternoon was to take a tour of the Cloisters Museum which is part of the Metropolitan Museum of Art featuring their Medieval Collection located in Fort Tyron Park overlooking the Hudson River. The museum was decorated for Christmas during the Renaissance and they were conducting a tour on “Holly and Hawthorne: Decorating during the holidays” on how people of that era embraced the coming of Winter by sprucing the house up with pines and flowers that bloomed in the Winter months. I thought it was an original theme and played into how the museum was decorated for the Christmas holidays.

Cloisters Christmas II

The Cloisters Museum looked so elegant at Christmas

Cloisters Christmas

My last stop before my trip downtown was at Bodega Pizza at 4455 Broadway to have a pizza at a restaurant I have wanted to try since the summer. I had passed it many times on my walk down Broadway but it was always closed.

Bodega Pizza

Bodega Pizza in Washington Heights

The pizza was excellent and so well cooked and the service could not have been nicer or more welcoming. The only problem was that they pulled a stunt with the bill and charged me an extra dollar for the pizza which I did not find out until I left the restaurant. The food and service are wonderful but double check the bill before you leave.

It was a different story when traveling to the mansions. Running all over the Hudson River Valley can make anyone hungry and I stopped at a few restaurants that I had either passed or had been on ‘my bucket list’ to try. On my first trip up to see the homes higher up the river, I stopped at Jade Palace Chinese Restaurant in Wappinger Falls, NY on Route 9 for dinner. The Cantonese food is excellent and the place was not that busy. The Roast Pork Lo Mein was excellent and so were the egg rolls.

Jade Palace

Jade Palace in Wappinger’s Falls, NY

Another restaurant I visited was the Pete’s Famous in Rhinebeck, NY at 34 Main Street in Downtown Rhinebeck, NY. This local diner is my ‘go-to’ place when I visit. I love their stick to your ribs type of cooking. On a cold night I treated myself to a Hot Turkey platter with mashed potatoes and broccoli. That hit the spot for dinner. Their Chicken Rice Soup really warmed me up as well.

Pete's Famous

Pete’s Famous in Downtown Rhinebeck

When visiting the mansions closer to Beacon, NY, take time to travel up Route 9D and drive through the small towns that parallel Route 9. It has much more character and you will miss Wappinger’s Falls, a small quaint town out of a Currier & Ives print that is rapidly gentrifying like the rest of the small Hudson River towns.

Downtown Wappinger's Falls

Downtown Wappinger’s Falls along Route 9D has a lot of character

Right near the river, I was recommended Wagon Wheel Pizza at 2654 East Main Street by one of the merchants. I am glad that i waited until 4:00pm when they opened. The pizza was wonderful and the owner could not have been more engaging.

Wagon Wheel Pizza

Wagon Wheel for pizza is delicious

This traditional family business harks back to the 1970’s pizzeria’s that I remember going to as a kid and the pizza is excellent. The sauce has such great flavor and there is nothing like a fresh pie when it comes out of the oven. The owner could not have been nicer and it is a nice spot to talk to the locals.

I was so exhausted from all the running back and forth to the Hudson River Valley and running in and out of the Manhattan that I needed to relax on New Year’s Eve. When I returned from my three mansion tour and lunch, I was warn out. I spent the coming on the new decade asleep and the only reason why I awoke at Midnight to greet in the next decade was because my neighbors were shooting off fireworks. Otherwise I would have slept right through it.

Happy 2020!

Rockefeller Christmas tree 2019

The Annual Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree 2019

What was special was they left the Annual Tree at Rockefeller Center up until January 8th so it was nice to see it lit without all the tourists milling around it. It was the perfect to visit Rockefeller Center. What a beautiful tree this year!

 

 

Places to Eat:

(I did not include the prices as they keep changing and the hours which can change during the times of the year. I made all the connections to each’s website).

 

Village Pizza of Rhinebeck

119 Market Street

Rhinebeck, NY  12572

(845) 876-9676

https://www.facebook.com/RBKVP/

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g48486-d818463-Reviews-Village_Pizza_of_Rhinebeck-Rhinebeck_New_York.html?m=19905

 

VFW of Lodi, NJ

163 Union Street

Lodi, NJ  07644

Every Second Sunday of the Month the Knights of Columbus run their Breakfast Buffet for $6.00 All you can Eat

 

Sanducci’s Italian Restaurant

620 Kinderkamack Road

River Edge, NJ  07661

(201) 599-0600

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g46776-d535253-Reviews-Sanducci_s_Trattoria-River_Edge_New_Jersey.html?m=19905

 

Striper Bites

107 Savannah Road

Lewes, DE 19958

(302) 645-4657

Home

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g34028-d396039-Reviews-Striper_Bites-Lewes_Delaware.html?m=19905

 

Jade Palace Chinese Restaurant

1659 Route 9

Wappingers Falls, NY  12590

(845) 297-1188

http://www.jadepalacewappingersfalls.com/

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g48799-d4631119-Reviews-Jade_Palace_Chinese_Restaurant-Wappingers_Falls_New_York.html?m=19905

 

Pete’s Famous Restaurant

34 East Market Street

Rhinebeck, NY  12572

(845) 876-7271

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

My review on TripAdvisor:

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

 

Bodega Pizza

4455 Broadway

New York, NY 10040

(646) 869-0815

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d17990667-Reviews-Bodega_Pizza-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

 

Wagon Wheel Pizza

2694 East Main Street

Wappinger’s Falls, NY  12590

(845) 297-5940

https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Wagon-Wheel-Pizza/167984063214534

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g48799-d4712660-Reviews-Wagon_Wheel_Pizza-Wappingers_Falls_New_York.html?m=19905

 

Places to Visit:

 

Downtown Rhinebeck, NY hosts the Sinterklaas Parade every year on the first Saturday of the Month of December. Please look to the website for more information on it:

Home

https://www.facebook.com/sinterklaasrhinebeck/

 

The Hasbrouck Heights Men’s Association sells Christmas trees each year starting the day after Thanksgiving until we sell out which is usually the second week of December:

https://www.facebook.com/hasbrouckheightsmensassociation/

 

Auntie El’s Farm Market

171 Route 17 South

Sloatsburg, NY  10974

(845)753-2122

Homepage

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g48625-d4557200-Reviews-Auntie_El_s_Farm_Market_and_Bakery-Sloatsburg_New_York.html?m=19905

My review on LittleShoponMainStreet@Wordpress.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/littleshoponmainstreet.wordpress.com/180

 

Because of the extensive amount of Historical Sites and Decorated Mansions that I visited during the Holidays Season, please check out my blog, ‘VisitingaMuseum.com’ on WordPress.com for more information on the Decorated Mansions and Museums:

https://visitingamuseum.com/

 

Downtown Lewes, DE has some very original and creative stores and restaurants that includes:

Fairy Godmother

103 Second Street

Lewes, DE  19958

(302) 930-7827

https://www.facebook.com/fairygodmother103/

My review on LittleShoponMainStreet@Wordpress.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/littleshoponmainstreet.wordpress.com/357

 

The Hasbrouck Heights Fire Department runs our annual “Santa Around Town” every December on the last Sunday of the month before Christmas:

http://www.hasbrouck-heights.com/hhfd/

http://hasbrouck-heightsnj.org/new_fire_department_page.html

 

Don’t miss Downtown Wappingers Falls, NY and Downtown Cold Springs during the holidays. The Hudson River Valley has such nice little towns to visit.

 

Yankee Stadium for the Pinstripe Bowl 2019:

 

 

Day One Hundred and Fifty-Five: Bergecco-Parc Consulting Inc. presents “Take me Back to Paterson, New Jersey” Introduction to Business 101-Bergen Community College November 23rd, 2019

Bergecco-Parc Consulting Inc.

Bergecco-Parc Logo

 

Welcome to Bergecco-Parc Consulting Inc. from Professor Justin Watrel, CEO & Co-Founder:

“This is the second time I have opened the firm, Bergecco-Parc Consulting Inc., for my Introduction to Business 101 class. As a College Professor, I have always felt that the only way that the students are going  to learn is by doing the work in real life.  So every semester we do a group project that encompasses everything we are learning in the text book. The entire class becomes members of the Paramus-branch Team and they have to do a real life project that has to be presented in front of a group. This project took it one step further as the Team was invited to present the project to His Honorable Andre Sayegh, Mayor of Paterson and his Executive Team.”

 

The website for Bergecco-Parc Consulting Incorporated’s latest project: “Take me back to Paterson, NJ”:

Bergecco-Parc Consulting Inc.

Our Film section of the Proposal:

https://mywalkinmanhattan.com/2019/12/23/bergecco-parc-consulting-inc-film-team-project/

For this semester, I developed something different from the previous projects. I had been in Paterson, NJ visiting some sites for my blog, “VisitingaMuseum.com” that is available on WordPress.com as well, that is an off-shoot of my main blog, “MywalkinManhattan.com”.

https://mywalkinmanhattan.com/

https://visitingamuseum.com/

I had visited the Paterson Museum one afternoon and then walked to the Paterson Falls, which is the second highest Falls east of the Mississippi. Along the way I had a hot dog and fries at Libby’s Lunch, a restaurant that has been in Paterson since 1936 (See my review on TripAdvisor).  While I was walking around the Falls after lunch and admiring them for all directions, I wondered why people don’t come down and visit them.

Paterson, NJ does not have the best reputation in the State of New Jersey. The schools, the gang problems and the poverty rate does not add to the reputation of a city that has been left behind. It was once the shopping and entertainment mecca from the end of the Second World War until the riots of 1967. ‘White flight’ and the closing of manufacturing plants sealed the fate of the city and the 1991 fire of Meyer Brothers Department Store in the downtown area just personified the problems of the City.

Yet I still saw something there. There is a lot of beauty to the City. Walking from the Falls back to the Paterson Museum I decided to find Lou Costello Park, a small square that is dedicated to the Comedian Lou Costello of the comedy team of Abbott & Costello. This small park just down the street from the Falls and was weed investing and full of homeless people. It was a little scary walking through the park, more for the homeless than for me as they thought I was a undercover policeman.

Walking down the street from the park leads to “Little Lima” the home of one of the largest population of Peruvian-Americans in the county. This vibrant neighborhood contains restaurants, retail stores, bakeries and salons and there is a lot to offer. This was once home to a large Irish population who used to work in the Mills and then it was Paterson’s Italian “Little Italy” until about the 70’s when most families moved to the suburbs.

I stopped in Los Immortales at 21 Market Street, a deli/bakery (see review on TripAdvisor) for a snack. They had the most delicious dulce de leche doughnuts, filled with a kind of caramel tasting sweetened milk filling. They also had delicious pastilitos, similar to empanadas, a pastry filled with beef or chicken.

On another trip I made to the City later that week to finalize the field trip, I ate at Central City Pizza at 301 Main Street (see my review on TripAdvisor). Their pizza was amazing for a small pizzeria. The slices were huge, the pizza sauce amazing and at $2.00 a slice was well within budget.

All of these sites were only within a few blocks of one another. As I was walking back to the car at the museum, it dawned on me why people were not coming here with these free cultural sites and reasonable meals. This is where the idea for marketing Paterson, NJ for tourism came about.

This semester I wanted to introduce my business students to the concept of marketing and using their business tools from class to see the same vision of the City that I was seeing. So I presented the project, “Take me back to Paterson, NJ”, to the class. How could we take the second largest City in New Jersey, one that was surround by some of the wealthiest suburbs and make it a destination to travel to for entertainment?

What I like about working with students in the entry level classes is their eagerness to look at things in a new light and their ambition to push themselves on their own. When I set the Executive Team up, it was interesting to see how they all come together. It takes time but I always see new relationships and friendships come out of it.

It was a slow start on the project as the students had to get to know their groups and the trust factors start. I saw the project start to jell when I arranged a trip ‘into the field’ to Paterson, NJ after our Midterm exam. I was surprised how happy some of the students were to go on a field trip. We lucked out and the weather was terrific, warm and sunny, a perfect fall day. The interesting part of this trip I found out later on in their research papers on the project was that many of them were worried about visiting Paterson, NJ. The reputation was already established in their minds and it was my job as their CEO of the company to change it.

As a group, it was an information trip and I could tell really opened the eyes of the students. Not only were they really surprised by what they saw but I liked how they bonded together both over lunch at Libby’s for a hot dog and fries and touring the Falls for a second time.

We started the trip by visiting the Paterson Museum first and meeting the curator and staff. I don’t think the students realized what a rich history Paterson had and the role it played in the history of this country. The Paterson Museum covers from the time of the Lenape Indians when they used this area as a fishing site and for worship to when Alexander Hamilton created the first planned City using the water source as energy and this lead to the creation of the Silk Industry henceforth the nickname “Silk City “.

Paterson Museum.jpg

The Paterson Museum

The Museum covers the history of the City of Paterson including famous individuals such as Lou Costello the Comedian, the growth the aerospace business of Curtis-Wright, the gun manufacturing industry, the silk industry and locomotive industry. There is also displays of minerals from the area as well as art work. Some of the students from our Talent Division had to plan a press party here so they asked lots of questions.

Paterson MuseumII.jpg

The history of ‘Silk City’ at the Paterson Museum

After our tour of the Paterson Museum, we started our first part of the tour of the Paterson Falls before lunch. Since the day got clearer and sunnier, the Falls were in their prime. It was just beautiful to enter the Paterson Falls National Park.

Paterson Great Falls.jpg

The Paterson Great Falls in the Great Falls District of the City of Paterson

This is where the students were able to capture of the real beauty of the City. The Falls were just beautiful with all the leaves changing colors behind them. We saw the entrance to the park for a quick explanation of the Falls and how they developed and how the Indians used this area as their summer camp.

Paterson Falls III.jpg

The Paterson Falls

Before we took a full tour of the Falls, I took the students to Libby’s Lunch (See review on TripAdvisor), a small diner restaurant that has been by the Falls since 1936. We had a group lunch of hot dogs and French fries (some of the students had turkey burgers) and Cokes. This is where I really saw my students bond. There was a lot of laughing and talking around the table and I could see that everyone was having a good time. The service could not have been nicer and more friendly and our waitress handled this large crowd well.

Libby's lunch

Libby’s Lunch in Paterson, NJ

After lunch, some of the students had to leave for work and other classes (they would return later for future visits) and the rest of the class and I continued on with our tour of the falls. We walked from the restaurant to the top part of the river and walked over the bridge covering the Falls and then we walked over the Falls. That’s when I knew I had their attention. The Falls are just so majestic and natural that when you hear the roar of the Falls it is enjoyable.

Libby's Lunch II

The hot dogs and fries were terrific

I gave the students about twenty minutes to walk around the park and just admire the view. I could see that many of the them were captured by the beauty of the park and after walking all over the park, some of them met on the benches below and just talked. it was nice to see that they were getting along so well.

Our next stop was Lou Costello Park, a tiny triangle of land down the block from the Falls and into the Mill district. This small park was dedicated to the famous comedian is located just behind the ‘Little Lima’ neighborhood District just off Ellison Street.

Lou Costello Park

Lou Costello Park

It is a sad reminder of the famous comedian. The park was falling apart and I had to warn the students of the homeless who took up residence here. For the most part, our group seemed to scare away everyone and we were able to walk the whole park with no problems. The statue could have used a good sandblasting and the lawn a good mowing and trimming but overall it was a good tour. There were not a lot of homeless that day in the bandstand.

Our next part of the tour was to “Little Lima’, the Peruvian-American district of shops, bakeries and restaurants that is tucked between Downtown Paterson and the Paterson Museum. Little Lima is between Main Street, Spruce Street, McBride Avenue, Cianci Street and Ward and Olive Streets. The border is with the Paterson Museum.

Little Lima II.jpg

Walking in Little Lima, Paterson, NJ

We walked all the streets in the neighborhood and on the edge of Downtown Paterson, where I showed the students all the Beaux-Arts buildings that once made up all the upscale department and specialty stores, office buildings and hotels. The one thing our little group did was shock all the merchants and patrons who looked at us like “Oh, no gentrifiers!” If I saw a mixed combination of students and a professor walking through my neighborhood, I would think the same thing.

We walked all the side blocks so that I could show them the businesses that were open and the condition of the neighborhood. We walked all around the church area and parking lot for a view of where we could hold events. Then I took them to Los Immortales at 21 Market Street (see my review on TripAdvisor) for dessert. We had the most delicious doughnuts filled with dulce de leche that I had eaten a few weeks before and cookies filled with the same. Each of the students took time to walk in and check out the store. Some even bought pastiletos, a type of empanada even after the big lunch. We really wiped out their baked goods. The staff got a kick out of it.

Little Lima.jpg

Los Immortales at 21 Market Street in Paterson, NJ

We walked back to the Paterson Museum and ate our dessert outside on the benches. We discussed the day and then the next group of students had to leave for classes and work and the last group of us headed to Lambert Castle.

Lambert Castle is located away from the downtown and we had to go to Garret  Mountain Reserve Park to visit the former mansion of silk baron,  Catholina Lambert. The home was closed as it was getting ready for the annual bazaar and then after the holidays it would close for a five year renovation.

Lambert Castle

Lambert Castle

We got to walk the grounds and admire the castle with its spectacular views of Paterson and New York City plus the glorious foliage that surrounded the house and the hillside. We got to walk the fountains and walkways around the house and discussed how this could be used for parties and get togethers. From there, we finished our visit and now it was up to the students to work their magic.

From that afternoon on until the presentation on November 22nd, we met at the end of class to have Board Meetings and group discussions on our progress.  Some of groups gelled better than others and with each class that I have done this there are always the ones who think they don’t have to do anything. They always stand out in the crowd.

Then there was a weird twist to the project. I stopped in City Hall in Paterson to see the Mayor and drop off a copy of the project to see if he and the Council would come and hear the presentation.  Because of a mix-up in appointments, he thought I was someone else and being in a blue suit I am not sure knew who I was or what I was doing there (the intern who told me to come in was off that day and did not leave the message).

We had a good laugh and I proceeded to tell his Honorable Andre Sayegh about our project for my class. We had a long discussion about what I wanted to do and the things I wanted the students to achieve on the project. He liked the ideas and came up with a better idea then him coming to class (he worked as a college professor as well and his class was right after mine). Why didn’t bring my class to City Hall to meet him? I loved it and told the Mayor I had to check with the school and then with the students but it should not be a problem.

Andre Sayegh.jpg

His Honorable Mayor of Paterson, NJ Andre Sayegh

The next week after our quiz and then lecture, almost everyone in my class got into their cars and off we went to Paterson City Hall on Market Street for our visit with the Mayor. I will tell you, it was a great meeting. The Mayor Sayegh is so personal and so enthusiastic about building the City of Paterson back to being an entertainment and dining destination that he embraced the project and encouraged all of my students with ideas and questions that we might have on how to bring tourists and surrounding residents back to the City.

Bergecco-Parc Consulting Inc..jpg

My class and I meeting with His Honorable Mayor Andre Sayegh

With that I invited the Mayor and the Council to come to campus to hear our ‘pitch’ on how to sell the City of Paterson as a destination. He upped it more and asked if we would like to make the presentation in Paterson City Hall the morning of the project.

The class got all excited and high-fived one another. I asked everyone to slow down as permission to do this project would have to come from the Dean’s Office. I just can’t take thirty students to City Hall on a Saturday morning to present a project without permission. So with the help of my Chairman, Dean and the Vice-President of the College, we got the approval to present the project in Paterson City Hall.

I am the first one to say that I was really nervous about the presentation. I had not seen a dry run of it before that day and I found out later in the student’s papers that I read that there was a lot of last minutes preparations for the presentation up to that morning. When we got to City Hall I could see that a lot of students were nervous and when they were giving their presentations there were some that ummed their way through. This was not a problem as when you are giving your first presentation especially in a real life situation, it can be nerve wracking.

Even before the presentation I was giving the students their Dress Code grade. Getting a group of Millenials and Generation Z students to dress like it was the Reagan Administration was a challenge. Some of the men did not own suits or a blue blazer, so I allowed sweaters. Some did not know how to tie a tie but I have to admit they all had shoes that were shined. Still they presented themselves as gentlemen. The ladies were completely professionally dressed in dresses, skirts, blouses and pantsuits.

Still I opened the presentation to the Mayor of who I was as CEO, who we were and the presentation that we were about to give. After that I had the President and the Senior VP of Operations take over and what a job they did. We were working without a screen, monitor or projector that worked (surprising for a City Hall) but our President took full control of the situation and she and the Senior VP can it like pros.

Each team gave their presentation group by group. We started with the Special Events team with a presentation by their VP and her teams. We had the Lambert Castle team, The Paterson Falls Team, The Paterson Museum Team and the Abbott & Costello Film Retrospect Team. Each gave their presentation on how they would promote their areas followed by commercials promoting their section.

The Paterson Falls Team Commercial:

 

The Paterson Museum Team Commercial:

 

The Lambert Castle Team Commercial:

 

Then our Restaurant Team made their presentation promoting “Little Lima” as a dining and entertainment district in the way of the new “Ironbound Section” as in Newark, NJ. Our VP of the Restaurant Division also came with samples of Peruvian cookies for everyone to sample which I thought was a nice touch.

The ‘Little Lima’ Restaurant Team Commercial:

 

Our VP of Talent & Security and her team gave their presentation on how we were going to pay for the Paramus Division. She and her team gave their report of salaries, benefits and perks of the company. As a progressive and innovative company, Bergecco-Parc Consulting Inc. wants to keep the employees happy.

The President and Senior VP lastly gave their report on where we would be running the Division from and picked out the location in an office space in Downtown Paterson, NJ right near City Hall where we could work with the Mayor and his team.

When the students finished their presentation, I was floored by the professionalism of the project, the details and just the way the students presented themselves. I swear I thought the whole thing was really real as did the Mayor and his team.

When we opened it up for questions of the Executive Team, I enjoyed hearing how the students could justify their work and research with the field trip and then their own visits to Paterson on their own. Some of the questions got so detailed that I thought they believed this was a presentation by an outside firm. It was a great relief when it was over. The students were happy and the Mayor and his team seemed impressed.

Our last order of business was taking a picture of the Bergecco-Parc Team with the Mayor and his team. That was a thrill for me. You will never know how proud of I was of this group of students (and of all my students who do this project.

Bergecco-Parc Consulting Inc. Paterson Project

The Bergecco-Parc Consulting Inc. team Fall 2019 with his Honorable Mayor Andre Sayegh and his Executive Team at Paterson, NJ City Hall November 22, 2019.

As the team broke up and I talked with the Mayor, I saw the team leave one by one with new found respect for one another. Frustrations, concerns and last minute details over. Was the presentation 100%? There were some things we needed to work on including some dress-code issues, articulation in speeches and some of the details of the Power Point but this is what a real team faces everyday when they go to work. Who really does the work, who doesn’t, who thinks they can ‘coast by’ and who does the extra mile. I hope they all thought of this by the time we got back to class after the Thanksgiving break.

I said my goodbyes to everyone and had a quick conversation with my President and Senior VP of Operations to tell them how proud I was of the ladies for leading such a good presentation and taking control of the situation with the IT. The only bad part is I never got to taste one of the muffins that the Mayor brought in for the team for breakfast. When I finally left, everything on the breakfast table was gone (more like stripped away).

When I came back from Florida after my break, I called the Mayor to hear his feedback and the best part was he said ‘he would hire us’. That was nice to hear!

If there was ever a Professor that felt prouder of his students it was me!

 

Professor Justin Watrel, CEO & Co-Founder

Justin Watral

Bergecco-Parc Consulting Inc.

Bergecco-Parc Logo

New Brunswick NJ/Paramus Satellite

 

Places to Visit in Paterson:

 

The Paterson Museum

2 Market Street

Paterson, NJ  07501

(973) 321-1260

http://www.thepatersonmuseum.com/

https://www.patersonnj.gov/department/?structureid=16

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g46718-d2704664-Reviews-Paterson_Museum-Paterson_New_Jersey.html?m=19905

My review on VisitingaMuseum:

https://wordpress.com/post/visitingamuseum.com/2757

 

The Paterson Falls National Park:

72 McBride Avenue Extension

Paterson, NJ  07501

(973) 523-0370

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

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g46718-d2587276-Reviews-Paterson_Great_Falls_National_Historical_Park-Paterson_New_Jersey.html?m=19905

My review on VisitingaMuseum.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/visitingamuseum.com/2273

 

Lou Costello Park

50 Ellison Street

Paterson, NJ  07505

https://foursquare.com/v/lou-costello-memorial-park/4bf8421fbb5176b0905d5bb2

Open: During the daytime hours

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g46718-d15154382-Reviews-Lou_Costello_Memorial_Park-Paterson_New_Jersey.html?m=19905

 

Lambert Castle

3 Valley Road

Paterson, NJ  07506

(973) 247-0085

https://lambertcastle.org/

https://lambertcastleweb.wordpress.com/museum/

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g46718-d1880569-Reviews-Lambert_Castle-Paterson_New_Jersey.html?m=19905

My review on VisitingaMuseum.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/visitingamuseum.com/2571

 

Little Lima Restaurant District

Between McBride Street, Main Street, Olive and Ward Streets

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Little_Lima

 

Places to eat in Paterson:

 

Libby’s Lunch

98 McBride Avenue

Paterson, NJ  07501

(973) 278-8718

https://www.facebook.com/OfficialLibbysLunch/

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g46718-d1133910-Reviews-Libby_s_Lunch-Paterson_New_Jersey.html?m=19905

 

Center City Pizza

301 Main Street

Paterson, NJ  07505

(973) 345-1100

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g46718-d4715215-Reviews-Center_City_Pizza-Paterson_New_Jersey.html?m=19905

 

Los Immortales

21 Market Street

Paterson, NJ  07501

973-278-1723

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g46718-d19284211-Reviews-Los_Immortales-Paterson_New_Jersey.html?m=19905

Day One Hundred and Fifty-Eight: Walking the Streets of Central Park South from West 58th to West 55th Streets from Eighth to Fifth Avenues December 6th, 2019-January 8th, 2020

The darker days of the Fall have come and it is starting to get dark at 4:30pm in the afternoon. It gets so depressing sometimes. Still this part of the City is dressed up for the Christmas holidays so all is still cheerful with sparking lights and window displays. The hotels and department stores in the neighborhood are in full swing and everyone is getting ready for the holidays.

Putting the Sinterklaas Parade behind me and visits to decorated mansions in New York and New Jersey for my blog, “VisitingaMuseum.com”, I was able to concentrate on finishing Central Park South. Even though it is a smaller neighborhood it still takes time to walk these busy streets. There is a lot to see and do in Central Park South. Between admiring the hotels decorated for the holidays and attending a show at Carnegie Hall for Christmas (I love my research), it was a lot of walking around admiring buildings and street art as well as watching the tourists rush around the area. Central Park keeps everyone busy no matter what the temperature.

According to the history of the area, Central Park South has transformed itself over the last fifty years from a fashionable residential area to a commercial neighborhood and now back to fashionable residential area with some of those very same buildings that were turned to office space and now back to expensive condos.

My walk started on a rather cool afternoon in December. I miss those days in December in 2015 when El Nino was affected the weather and it was 60 degrees. It was a cool 40 degrees and rather cloudy. Still it was a brisk day for a walk.

I started to walk the interior streets from the borders from West 55th to West 58th Streets dodging office workers and tourists. The character of the streets changes from Eighth Avenue to Fifth Avenue. The more classic elegant stone townhouses still surround Fifth Avenue whereas by Eighth Avenue and Broadway, new office buildings dominate.

After a morning of working at Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen (we had no extra bread in the Extra Bread station), I went to see the early silent horror film, “The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari” at the Museum of Modern Art. It was an interesting film with a lot of twists and makes you aware of who is really crazy in this film. It is interesting to note how this film has held up in almost 90 years. After the movie, I walked out the back door to West 55th Street and started walking.

My start point was West 55th Street,  walking under scaffolding all over the place and noticing reminders of the City when it was on the verge of bankruptcy. When I was kid the New York City Center was on the verge of being knocked down and it was a group of artists that saved the complex. The theater at 131 West 55th Street was built in 1923 designed by architect Harry P. Knowles from the firm of Clinton & Russell.

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The New York City Center at 131 West 55th Street

The building was designed in the ‘Neo-Moorish style’ with interesting terra cotta tile work and murals. The building was originally called the “Mecca Temple” and was used by the Shriner’s for their meetings but its purpose changed after the Crash of 1929 and it became City property. Mayor La Guardia turned it into the performing arts center in 1943. Having faced two bouts with demolition in both the 40’s and 70’s, it has now been landmarked in 1984 and is home to Encores Off-Center (Wiki).

Across the street from the City Center, I came across Myzel’s Chocolates at 140 West 55th Street. Now, I have been walking around this area all my life and could not understand how I missed this wonderful little candy shop. It is such a tiny space but packed with lots of character and a lot of delicious candy.

Myzel's Chocolates

Myzel’s Chocolates at 140 West 55th Street

The shop was opened in 1990 by Kamila Myzel and her mother, Alina and is known for their handmade chocolates and cookies plus an array of licorice, chocolates and decorative gift items. When she opened the shop in 1990, Ms. Myzel was noted in saying “I love any nuts, chocolate with nuts, almond bark and marzipan. My chocolate is good quality for ordinary people.” (NYT 2009).

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Kamila Myzel minding the store at Myzels Chocolates

This love of her product shows not just in her merchandising (See review on TripAdvisor and LittleShoponMainStreet@Wordpress.com) but in the customer service she gives. Even though I was only in to look I could see her eyeing me to see what I would buy while she chatted with a customer she knew. I loved the size of the store, which is tiny, in comparison with the ten people squeezed into the space jocking for her attention. I loved the festive atmosphere as the store was decorated for Christmas.

As I continued down West 55th Street, I almost missed the historical Rockefeller Apartments at 24 West 55th Street that was hiding under that neighborhood scaffolding. The complex was built in 1936 by Rockefeller family architects Wallace Harrison and Andre Fouilhoux and was designed in the ‘International Style” and was noted for changing our perspective in light and air in building design (HMdg.org).

Rockefeller Apartments

Rockefeller Apartments 24 West 55th Street

At the end of the block on the corner of Fifth Avenue and West 55th Street is the Peninsula Hotel. This elegant hotel was built in 1905 in the Neo-Classic style as the Gotham Hotel and was bought from bankruptcy in 1988 to the Peninsula Group as their New York property.

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Christmas at The Peninsula Hotel

I was able to walk for a bit inside the hotel which was lavishly decorated for the Christmas holidays with all sorts of trees, lights and Santa’s. I could barely walk around with all the tourists taking pictures.

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The entrance to the Peninsula Hotel at Christmas

The Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church at 7 West 55th Street is across the street from the Peninsula and was also decorated with lights and garland for the holidays. There was music playing inside as mass was going on at that time of the day. The Church had been built in 1875 by architects George B. Post and finished by Carl Pfeiffer. You really have to look up at the elegant details of this church that was designed in the Victorian Gothic design (Wiki).

Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church

Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church at 7 West 55th Avenue

On my way back down West 55th Street, I stopped for some lunch at the Star Stage  Deli at 101 West 55th Street (see review on TripAdvisor). In all the times I had been in this neighborhood over the years, I had never noticed the restaurant before. It is a little hole in the wall that is a throwback to the restaurants that used to dot Manhattan all through the 70’s and 80’s until they were pushed out for the expensive ‘revolving door’ restaurants that keep opening and closing in the area.

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Star Stage Deli at 101 West 55th Street

At first I was going to have a Cheeseburger platter but when I saw the guy behind the counter throw an already cooked burger on the grill I quickly changed my mind and had the Chicken Parmesan and Baked Ziti platter ($8.95) with a Coke because it looked much fresher. It was delicious and I highly recommend it. You got two big pieces of breaded chicken breast in a delicious tomato sauce with several nice sized scoops of baked ziti. The meal could have fed two people and was enough food to re-energize me. There are all sorts of specials that run under $10.00.

When walking back to Eighth Avenue, there is a series of hotels that you will pass all them decorated for the holidays. The Wellington Hotel at 871 Seventh Avenue was decked out for the holidays with lots of white lights and garlands all over the street level Park Cafe windows.  This 27 story hotel was built in 1911 and designed by architect Robert T. Lyons. The entrances and facade of the building are done in polished granite and bronze.

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The Hotel Wellington at 871 Seventh Avenue

On the corner of West 55th Street and Broadway is the Dream Hotel at 210 West 55th Street which was lavishly decorated in and out for Christmas. Garland, trees and lights are all over the exterior of the building making it very festive. The hotel is housed in a series of renovated buildings with the main one on the corner of Broadway which was built in 1895 in the Beaux-Arts style (Dream Hotels Bio).

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The Dream Hotel at the corner of Broadway and West 55th Street

At the end of the block is the well known McGee’s Pub at 240 West 55th Street. McGee’s has been known to be the inspiration for MacLarsen’s Bar in the popular CBS sitcom “How I met your Mother”. The restaurant has been around for years and reflects the changes in time by the whole neighborhood begin knocked down around it. It almost reminds me of PJ Clarks on the Westside of Manhattan with a modern skyscraper surrounding it.

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McGee’s Pub at 240 West 55th Street

As I turned onto West 56th Street, I came across another iconic restaurant that I have eaten at many times, Patsy’s at 236 West 56th Street (see reviews on TripAdvisor). I love the food here. The pastas are all freshly made and their Fried Mozzarella is so well prepared and their Mariana sauce is so flavorful. The service is excellent and I always enjoy eating there.

Patsy’s was founded in 1944 by Pasquale “Patsy” Scognamillo and has been in its current location since 1954 serving locals, celebrities and tourists alike. There has only been three chefs at Patsy’s, Patsy himself, his son, Joe and Joe’s son Sal (Patsy’s history).

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Patsy’s Restaurant at 236 West 56th Street

The last time I had dinner there before the theater the food was amazing (see my review on TripAdvisor). I had the Mozzarella in Carrozza ($24.00) for two which I finished on my own. It is basically a breaded mozzarella sandwich with their fresh Mariana sauce which were pan-fried perfectly and melted in the middle.

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The Mozzarella in Carrozza at Patsy’s is excellent

For the entree I had the Lobster with Linguine Oreganata, which I had seen prepared on the Travel Network and feeling generous to myself at the holidays, I treated myself. It was excellent. Perfectly cooked pasta with almost a half of sweet lobster topped on the dish.

The best part of the evening was that I got to meet Sal, the chef on the way out and I told him about my meal and how I ordered it because of the Travel Network show. Then I added how much I loved the meal. He was so nice and gave me a jar of his Mariana sauce and told me to enjoy it at home. I thought he was a great guy and good businessman.

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Chef Sal Scognamillo of Patsy’s Restaurant

On the back part of the City Center is The Writers Room plaque dedicated the writers of Sid Caesar’s “The Show of Shows”. Some of the most famous writers and comedians had worked on this show and went on to their own famous careers.

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This plaque is located on the back of The City Center on the West 56th side of the building

In the corridor of The Malborough Building at 40 West 57th Street which runs to West 56th Street is an exhibition of artist Tom Otteness’s work. Don’t miss this open air art exhibition on the artist’s work.

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The Malborough Building open air exhibition of Tom Otteness works

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Each of the works is very interesting

Tom Otterness Artist

Artist Tom Otteness

The artist studied at the Arts League of New York and is well known for his work on public art. He art has graced many parts of New York City including an exhibition of “Tom Otteness on Broadway” which ran from Columbus Circle to 168th Street. Don’t miss this interesting open air exhibition that stretches from West 56th to West 57th Streets.

On the corner of Seventh Avenue and West 55th West 56th Streets at 881 Seventh Avenue is Carnegie Hall which is all decked out for the holidays. This palace of entertainment was designed by architect William Burnet Tuthill and built by industrialist Andrew Carnegie. It is one of the biggest buildings in New York built entirely of masonry without a steel frame Wiki).

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Carnegie Hall at Christmas is beautiful

At the last minute I got the last ticket to “New York Pops with Frank and Ella” on Friday December 20th and off I went to enjoy the concert. It was a really cool night that evening and it was nice to see so many people dressed for the occasion. I even saw a few mink coats out.

I really enjoyed the concert and talk about putting you in the Christmas spirit. I had not been Carnegie Hall since the concert last year. The stage was so tastefully decorated and the New York Pops entertained us first. We started with a round of traditional Christmas songs before the show started and ‘Deck the Halls’ was one of the songs on the schedule.

 

The New York Pops performing “Deck the Halls”

The concert “A Frank and Ella Christmas” starred Tony DeSare and Capathia Jenkins sang the songs of Frank Sinatra and Ella Fitzgerald. Essential Voices USA provided the background singing and backup and they were excellent.

Tony DeSare singing “Have yourself a Merry Little Christmas”

What I love about this concert is one of the events at the holidays I look forward to as it always puts me in the holiday mood. Carnegie Hall is always sold out for both nights of the concerts as I think everyone else feels the way I do.

Last year, the only seat left was on the aisle and Santa himself was standing next me when he entered the concert hall to start the sing a long. For a split second, I really believed. That’s how much this concert puts you in to the proper holiday spirit. What I loved the most about the concert was the sing a long at the end of the concert and I mean everyone sings! It is really something. That’s the wonderful memory I have when I walk past Carnegie Hall.

As I headed back to Eighth Avenue, I passed one of the best McDonald’s (see my reviews on TripAdvisor) in the City at 946 Eighth Avenue on the corner Eighth Avenue and West 55th Street. I have eaten at this McDonald’s so many times in the series of walks for this project that I can’t even count them on my finger. The food here is really good and the service is very quick. When there is no alternative before the movies or theater, this is the go to place for a McDouble or Premium Chicken sandwich.

Sitting at the head of the neighborhood is the Hearst Publishing Building at 300 West 57th Street between West 56th and 57th Streets. This impressive building was built in two stages. The first part of the building was built in 1928 by architect Joseph Urban as the headquarters of Hearst Publications for William Randolph Hearst. The rest of the building was not completed due to the Great Depression (Wiki).

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The original part of the building by architect Joseph Urban

The newer part of the building was completed eighty years later and was finished in 2006. This 46 story tower was designed by architect Norman Foster and is designed in triangle grid called a “diagrid” and won many awards as one of New York’s first ‘green buildings’ (Wiki). Look up at this unusual design and the contrasts of the two parts of the building.

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The Hearst Tower designed by architect Norman Foster

I rounded West 57th Street and walked past many familiar buildings from crossing the neighborhood but there are many well known restaurants and stores on this block. There is a lot of excitement with the new Nordstrom department store that opened on the corner of Broadway and West 57th Street at 225 West 57th Street.

The store is one of the largest and single project investments in Nordstrom history. There is seven levels of merchandise, six restaurants and an extensive list of services for the customers. The store forms the base of one of the largest residential buildings in the Western Hemisphere and is the combination of old and new. It is the first department store to open in New York City since the 1920’s. With a facade of large windows and lots of natural light you can see the happenings in the store from street level (Nordstrom Press Release).

During the three times I walk through the store is was indeed busy with lots of hipster employees walking around but most were on their cellphones and the customers seemed to be looking around. The restaurants were mostly full the nights I was there but the one thing I did not see was shopping bags leaving the store. I did not see one Nordstrom bag on the streets in the neighborhood. It is going to be interesting to see how the store does during its first Christmas especially with the Lord & Taylor flagship closing on Fifth Avenue and West 38th Street and Barney’s on Madison Avenue.

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The new Nordstrom at 225 West 57th Street

Further down the street I passed the Osborne Apartments at 205 West 57th Street. These iconic condos were built between 1883-1885 by architect James Edward Ware in a rusticated brownstone outside to the building and an ‘American Renaissance’ in the detailed foyer and public rooms (Wiki). The building is truly one of kind and its apartment structure a time of ‘Gilded Age’.

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The Osborne Apartments at 205 West 57th Street

The elaborate lobby is something to see. It has stuccoed and mosaic tiled floors with use of Italian marble. The walls are covered in glazed terra-cotta panels and the ceilings are covered in different colored hues (Wiki).

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The details of the Osborne Apartment’s lobby

Near the Osborne Apartments at 200 West 57th Street at the corner of Seventh Avenue is the Rodin Studio Apartments. This beautifully detailed building was built in 1917 by architect Cass Gilbert, who had designed the Woolworth Building downtown.  The building was designed as studios for artists and combination studio/living spaces thus the name Rodin after the artist Auguste Rodin. The building had been the brainchild of a groups of established artists (Daytonian Manhattan).

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The Rodin Studios building at 200 West 57th Street

The building, like the Woolworth Building, is designed in ‘white terra-cotta Gothic Revival’ with lots of windows to let in the natural light. You will have to look up from the other side of the street to see the interesting details of the building. The exterior of the building just went through a full renovation.

Another well-known iconic restaurant is located in the neighborhood that has always catered to the theater and business crowd alike, the Russian Tea Room at 150 West 57th Street right next to Carnegie Hall. I have been in this restaurant many times over the years and the renovations twenty years ago made it a little ‘glitzy and over the top’ in design.

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The entrance to the Russian Tea Room at 150 West 57th Street

The restaurant had opened in 1927 by a group of Russian Ballet expatriates as a gathering place and it then got the reputation as a place for the entertainment industry to gather for lunch and dinner. The restaurant had a series of owners but when Warner LeRoy bought the restaurant in 1996 and when he closed it he took a very nice elegant restaurant and turned it into another “Tavern on the Green” with garish decor.

The food and atmosphere was never the same both to many New Yorkers, who left it for the tourists and in many meals I have had there in recent history, the last one being in April of 2011 for my father’s birthday/Christmas present one month before he got sick. That evening has special meaning to me now.

In the years that I ate at the restaurant during the holidays in the early 90’s, my brother and I would see celebrities all the time in the other booths. Our last meal there before it closed for renovations in 1996, we sat next to Sylvia Miles, who recently passed away in the summer of 2019. But that night she held court in the restaurant and our attention especially to my brother who kept nudging me that she was there. This was when dining there was a special event and the food was really good. Today you get a ‘watered down’ version of Russian cooking. (I would not recommend it in this blog.)

Many movies were shot there but this scene from Tootsie in 1982 captured the mood of the restaurant in the 1980’s.

 

One of the funniest scenes of a movie shot in the Russian Tea Room from “Tootsie” in 1982

There was more interesting apartment buildings to see in the neighborhood another located at 130 West 57th Street. This elegant building was built between 1907-08 by architects Pollard & Steinam in the ‘Art Deco style”. This building was also created as artists studios/residences when this was a creative residential district.

130 West 57th Street

130 West 57th Street

At the end of the block, I revisited Bergdorf Goodman at 754 Fifth Avenue that runs from West 57th to 58th Streets opposite of the Plaza Hotel. This palace of luxury was founded in 1899 by Herman Bergdorf and later owned by Edward Goodman. The store when you look at it was designed as a series of buildings that could have been broken into shops had the business not done well. During the Depression, the store thrived and Edward Goodman bought up the remaining parts of the building to reconfigure the store into its present form (Wiki).

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The Palace of Luxury Bergdorf Goodman at 754 Fifth Avenue is fun to visit

It is a fun way to spend the afternoon taking the escalator to the various floors and look at how the clothes are displayed and examine the beautiful jewelry and handbags. It also had one of the nicest perfume departments in the county with items found no where else in the United States. Having worked there in 2004, I found it a unique experience to my retailing career and I still enjoy talking to James, the doorman who works there.

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The new Jewelry Salon at Bergdorf-Goodman

Right down the road from Bergdorf-Goodman at 35 West 57th Street is the loneliest looking stone mansion that new houses a deli. This magnificent mansion is the Schieffelin-Bowne  Mansion that was built in 1891 by Margaret Vanderbilt Shepard for her daughter, Maria Louise Vanderbilt Shepard for her marriage to William Jay Schieffelin, a member of a drug manufacturing family and the grandson of John Jay, the first Chief Justice. The house was a few steps from the large mansion of Cornelius Vanderbilt II, which was one the location of Bergdorf-Goodman (Daytonian 2012).

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The Vanderbilt Mansion at 35 West 57th Street sits lonely now

The house was sold to millionaire Samuel Bowne in 1898 when the Schieffelin’e moved to East 66th Street. Mr. Bowne suffered a stoke around 1909 and died a year later. His widow sold the house and moved to Florida and died in 1930. Since 1930, the mansion has been used for commercial purposes and sits next to a construction site as a sad reminder of how fashionable the neighborhood was once (Daytonian 2012). It could used a good cleaning.

At 57 West 57 Street on the corner of West 57th and Seventh Avenue is a beautiful Art Deco office/apartment building that was built in 1928. The building has interesting details from the gilded facial imagines on the cornices to the marble front and lobby inside. Really look at the artwork carved into the outside of the building. Der Scott, the architect of Trump Tower renovated the building in 1988 and added many of the details to the building.

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57 West 57th Street is a gilded Art Deco Building

Another beautiful building at 123 West 57th Street #3 is the Calvary Baptist Church which stands guard amongst its more modern neighbors. This interesting church is an example of a ‘skyrise church’ as it is a sixteen story building. It was built in 1929 by architects Jardine, Hall & Murdock and the building was dedicated in 1931 (Wiki). Take a look up at the stone carvings and intricate design of the stone work.

Calvary Baptist Church

Calvary Baptist Church at 123 West 57th Street

I started my third afternoon in the neighborhood back at the Turnstyle Underground Market at 1000S 8th Avenue which is in the subway station under the Time Warner Building. This surprising little food court has some innovative and very reasonable restaurants. Last time I ate here was at Daa! Dumplings, the Russian dumpling restaurant and this time I ate at Champion Pizza at the end of the court after eyeing a Mac & Cheese Pizza in the display window.

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Champion Pizza in the Turnstyle Underground Food Court

After deciding on that and a Coke (see Review on TripAdvisor), I sat down at one of the busy tables with high school students and tourist staring into their phones. The pizza was delicious and tasted like Kraft Mac & Cheese topped with mozzarella on the top. After my lunch, I was ready for a long walk.

I rounded the corner and entered the more commercial West 58th Street in the early afternoon. This is an interesting block as you head past Seventh Avenue the street is lined with the back of the New York Athletic Club, the Park Lane Hotel and the Plaza Hotel.

One of the more interesting buildings is the Central Park Mews at 117 West 58th Street. This interesting brick apartment building was built in 1900 and show a lot of character with its marble and brick facade. Look at the stone details around the building and interesting windows towards the top.

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Central Park Mews at 117 West 58th Street really stands out

At the end of West 58th Street towards Bergdorf-Goodman is the now closed Paris Theater at 4 West 58th Street, which was once a major art movie theater and noted for its edgy releases. Now Netflix has reopened it for their releases to the public before they start screening films on TV. The 71 year old theater is seeing new life and a lot of new patrons (NYTimes 2019). The theater is the last single screen theater in New York City.

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The Paris Theater at 4 West 58th Street is now leased by Netflix

Just outside theater and in front of 9 West 58th Street, the Solow Building,  is an unusual and very strange statue standing guard on the street. This is “Moonbird” by artist Joan Miro. This strange fourteen foot abstract sculpture had replaced an Alexander Calder sculpture that had been once stood here.

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‘Moonbird’ by Joan Miro from 1966 in front of the Solow Building

The sculpture was created in smaller forms in 1966 and was noted as having a cosmic connection to nature. The sculpture was derived from a connection the artist had in the world of birds and the terrestrial and celestial worlds (Artworld 1988).

Joan Miro was a Spanish born painter, sculptor and ceramicist whose art gravitated towards Surrealism,  whose goal it is to liberate thought, language and human experience from the boundaries of rationalism (Artworld).  The artist had studied at the Cerle Artistic de Sant Lluc and held is first solo show in 1918 (Wiki).

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Artist Joan Miro in his later years

When crossing the street into the Plaza Hotel and know the hotel of its heyday, it is a much smaller and more compact hotel. When enter from the back of the Plaza Hotel you will come across The Shops at the Plaza Hotel and the Plaza Hotel Food Hall inside the basement area of the hotel at Central Park South and Fifth Avenue.

There is a selection of expensive stores and small restaurants inside the Food Hall. You can choose from bakery items, Chinese, Italian and sandwiches. The Shops has an exclusive Plaza boutique and an Eloise shop that even has a tea room for children’s tea parties. There is a nice selection places to visit if money is not the object.

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The Shops at the Plaza Hotel and the Plaza Hotel Food Hall are interesting to visit

When exiting the back of the Plaza Hotel, you will see the service areas and backs of some of the most famous hotels facing Central Park. As you head back down West 58th Street, there are two side by side buildings you might miss under all the scaffolding all over the block.

Tucked behind scaffolding is 213 West 58th Street, now the Unity Center of New York but when it was built was the stables/garage of Helen Gould Miller. The structure was built in 1910 by architects York & Sawyer in the ‘French Renaissance style’ for the daughter of financier Jay Gould. This was the home of her carriages and then cars with apartments for the coachman and then chauffeur. Even in the shadows of all the construction you can see the detailed stone work and carved details of the building.

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213 West 58th Street, The Helen Gould Miller Stables

Next door at 215 West 58th Street is Engine 23, “The Lion’s Den” a FDNY Firehouse that was established on October 6th, 1865 as one of the oldest companies in New York City and two months after the department became paid. The original company had been established in 1810 as Equitable Company 36 then as Harry Howard Volunteer Company named after the Department Chief Engineer.

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Engine 23 at 215 West 58th Street “The Lion’s Den”

The building was designed by architect Alexander H. Stevens between 1905-06 in the ‘Beaux Arts style’ (New York YIMPY).

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Engine 23, “The Lion’s Den”

I ended the walk at the Museum of Art & Design at 2 Columbus Circle on the very edge of the neighborhood. This unique museum I have written about many times in my VisitingaMuseum.com site. The museum was opened in 1956 to celebrate American craftsmanship and in it’s current incarnation established at its present site in 2008, the museum studies the art and design process dealing with many art forms including movies, music, painting, jewelry and clothing & textiles (See my review on TripAdvisor and VisitingaMuseum.com)

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The Museum of Art & Design at 2 Columbus Circle on the very edge of Central Park South

I went to a walking tour of the museum highlights and then visited the Anna Sui exhibition of her clothing, accessories and cosmetics. Her clothing is an interesting art form itself with each season it gets more interesting.

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Designer Anna Sui

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The collections of Anna Sui at the Museum of Art & Design at 2 Columbus Circle

The walk of the neighborhood ended with dinner at China Gourmet, a tiny hole in the wall restaurant at 877 8th Avenue (see review on TripAdvisor) that I had passed walking up to the neighborhood. This is a big restaurant with the office workers in the area and had been packed for lunch. I had a Sweet & Sour Pork combination platter with an egg roll and Coke ($10.95).

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China Gourmet at 877 8th Avenue is in Hell’s Kitchen

Even though the portion size was large and the food fresh it tasted like the wok had not been cleaned or the oil was old. The meal was okay but still the place bustled and the most interesting characters walked in and out of the restaurant. There was no lack of entertainment in the customers here at 9:00pm at night.

To end the evening, I went to Rockefeller Center to see the Christmas tree which was surprisingly still up on January 8th. Much less crowded than the week before, I was able to walk around the rink and watch the skaters and admire the tree from afar with the gaping tourists taking ‘selfies’ all over the place. I will tell you that tourists spend more time in Manhattan taking pictures than actually admiring what is around them. That is such a pity as I think you miss more if you don’t actually look at what is surrounding you as you walk around.

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The Rockefeller Christmas tree January 8th, 2020

 

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year 2020!

 

Places to Eat:

Star Stage Deli

101 West 55th Street

New York, NY  10019

(212) 541-4650

http://www.stagestardeli.com/

Open: Sunday-Saturday 6:00am-8:00pm

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d4369641-Reviews-Stage_Star_Deli-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

 

Patsy’s Restaurant

236 West 56th Street

New York, NY  10019

(212) 247-3491

https://www.patsys.com/

Open: Sunday-Thursday 12:00pm-9:30pm/Friday & Saturday 12:00pm-10:30pm

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d478026-Reviews-Patsy_s_Italian_Restaurant-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

 

McDonald’s

946 Eighth Avenue

New York, NY  10019

(212) 586-6676

https://www.mcdonalds.com/us/en-us/full-menu.html?cid=RF:YXT_LS:SI::MGBM

Open: 24 hours, 7 days a week

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d4468379-Reviews-McDonald_s-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

 

Champion Pizza

1000 South 8th Avenue

New York, NY  10019

(212) 315-3335

http://www.championpizzanyc.com

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

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d12849399-Reviews-Champion_Pizza-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

 

China Gourmet

877 8th Avenue

New York, NY

(212) 246-8181/8191/Fax: (212) 246-2124

http://www.chinagourmet8ave.com

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

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d3385484-Reviews-China_Gourmet-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

 

Places to Visit:

 

The Shops at the Plaza Hotel/Plaza Hotel Food Court

Fifth Avenue at Central Park South

New York, NY 10019

(212) 759-3000

plazareservation@fairmont.com

Open: Sunday 11:00am-6:00pm/Monday-Saturday 10:00am-8:00pm

Shops

The Plaza Food Hall

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d3643072-Reviews-Food_Court-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

 

The Turnstyle Underground Market

1000S 8th Avenue

New York, NY  10019

(646) 768-9222

Open: 24 hours (not every restaurant)

https://www.turn-style.com/

https://www.turn-style.com/food-hall

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d11888820-Reviews-Turnstyle-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

 

Museum of Art & Design

2 Columbus Circle

New York, NY  10019

(212) 229-7777

https://madmuseum.org/

Open: Sunday 10:00am-6:00pm/Monday Closed/Tuesday-Wednesday 10:00am-6:00pm/Thursday 10:00am-9:00pm/Friday-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

All the interesting buildings in the neighborhood I have mentioned by address and you should take the time to really look up at these beautiful structures. There are coming down too fast to make way for new things.

 

 

 

Day One Hundred and Fifty-Six: The Sinterklaas Parade in Rhinebeck-Here comes Christmas! December 7th, 2019

Welcome back to Rhinebeck, NY for Sinterklaas!

This annual Dutch Christmas festival has become part of my Christmas tradition since I visited Rhinebeck for the event in 2010. Rhinebeck, New York is the true Currier & Ives town at Christmas time and one of the most quintessential Hudson Valley town that retains it charm being so close to the City. I love coming up here not just for the event but as you have noticed by my most current blogs, I have spent a lot of time here in the Summer and Fall letting readers know of all the wonderful events and happenings in the area.

I have to say I was not used to Christmas creeping up on me like this. It had only been five weeks since we had the Halloween Parade in the City and puppet rehearsals had only been five and a half weeks earlier when I visited Rokeby. That and it had been 71 degrees on Halloween night and Sinterklass night it was more like 25 degrees. I could really feel the drop in temperature that evening.

Having just returned from Florida over the Thanksgiving break, I had been in class giving a quiz to my students that morning and reviewing over their group project and various chapters in the book for the upcoming exam. So I did not head Upstate until almost noon. I got up to Rhinebeck at 2:00pm and that is when it set in that the snow storm that had hit New Jersey was very different from the one Upstate. The storm had been worse Upstate than it had been in New Jersey and there was still a foot of snow in Rhinebeck. I didn’t get to the main street until 2:30pm.

The side streets were closed off on one side because the snow was still piled high. So it was an eight block walk on snowy paths to the Main Street of Rhinebeck which had fully cleaned up for the parade. What was nice this year was the first three blocks of the downtown area were closed off so you could enjoy the bands and acts walking around.

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Rhinebeck when the sun goes down at Christmas

It was a cold afternoon and I noticed that the crowds were not as large as they usually were for the event. Still Rhinebeck at Sinterklaas is festive and engaging environment. There were crowds weaving in and out of the restaurants and stores and the windows were decked out for the holidays with interesting holiday displays and lit stars from the parade. All around town there bands playing, people on stilts singing and grumpuses (Sinterklaas’s helpers) dancing around and chanting. You could see that people were freezing but still having a really good time.

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The Grumpuses, Sinterklaas’s helpers dancing in Downtown Rhinebeck, NY

I was able to get to see some of the musical performances at the churches before the start of the parade and warm up. Even the audiences did not seem as busy as they had in the past but still people were enjoying the performances and stopped shivering.

Don’t miss this performance of Uptown Lowdown in downtown Rhinebeck that afternoon. The ladies were wonderful!

Sitting in the church pews and listening to groups was enjoyable. There was only about two hours before meeting at the Starr Library for the parade so I chose my shows by groups I had not heard in the past.

I started at 3rd Evangelical Lutheran Church listening to the Bard College Georgian Choir, who sang traditional Georgian Christmas music, which was interesting. I did not understand the words but the music was enjoyable. The students did a nice job.

This is some of their work at another concert

After that, I took a short walk to the other side of the downtown and heard the Vassar Devils at the Reformed Church Sanctuary. They were lively, peppy bunch that sang traditional Christmas carols with a jazzy spin.

This is the Vassar Devils at the 2015 Sinterklaas event

After the concerts, it was a quick walk to the Starr Library to get ready for the Sinterklaas Parade. There is always a lot of excitement to the beginning of the parade and getting ready to march down the hill. For some reason, I don’t remember it getting so cold so early in the season.

The temperature  dropped as the sun went down. Everyone was excited as we lined up for the parade and got ready for the walk through the downtown. All I could think about is how fast the year had gone and how I had this conversation with myself when I walked the parade last year. Were the years getting quicker between the parades?

There is an exhilaration when the parade progresses down the hill into Downtown Rhinebeck and the whole town is lit with white Christmas lights and illuminated stars that represent the parade. It may have seemed quiet in town that afternoon but the crowds were out for the parade. There must have been about a thousand people lining the street on both sides. It was a big crowd filming the parade.

There is always such excitement to this parade. Similar to the Barnacle Parade that I attended in October (Day One Hundred and Fifty One The Barnacle Parade see below), this is a home grown parade that just keeps getting bigger. When I first starting coming to the Sinterklaas Parade back in 2010, it was more local people. Now you have people coming from many states to join in the festivities. Even the cold kept people from the day’s activities, they came for the parade.

Marching toward the end of the parade with Mother Nature, this is the second year of carrying the ‘star forest; puppet (I am not pulling my back out for something heavier as in the past), we get to see the other puppets, floats and bands head down the hill. You can see the multiple lights from the other puppets and the raging sounds of the bands and the Chinese Dragons as they head down the hill to town.

You can see me in the corner holding the Star Forest puppet by Mother Nature with my Cornell Pom-Pom hat on marching to keep warm. It is an exciting night!

There is always a delay as you get to the Route 9 crossing near the Beekman Arms Hotel for the performance of the “Wild Women of Rhinebeck”, who perform their annual dance and for the ‘Dragon Dance’ that the Chinese dancers perform. It is really fun to see up close if you get the chance.

When we entered the downtown, all the kids were excited to see the Mother Nature float winding by. The parents were just as excited as they high-fived Mother Nature as they passed by groups of people. The drum line was going in full beat just behind us followed by a large group of parade goers marching in the parade with their lit stars. It was exhilarating and fun to watch from the marcher’s point in the parade. On such a cold night (by this point it was 25 degrees), I could not believe that many people were lining the parade route.

As we rounded the corner into the Rhinebeck Municipal lot to end the parade and drop the puppets off, we were greeted by a huge roar of people and the announcements from the stage for the final part of the parade. I just dropped my puppet off and enjoyed the stage show as the drum line passed by.

The stage performance was with all the main characters of the parade, Sinterklaas, Mother Holly, the Snow King and Queen, the Mermaid Queen, the Midnight Moon Princess and various members of the Sinterklaas Parade Committee who run the parade. it is a ceremony that honors the children, ‘The Kings and Queens of Sinterklaas’, for the evening.

There were musical performances, dancing, prayer and then the fire jugglers entertaining us. The audience had thinned out by this point and about a hundred and fifty people were standing in the parking lot watching the ceremony. It was getting even colder by the time the fire jugglers started. After the last announcement for the parade events next year, the crowd started to disperse. It did not take long to watch crowd leave as it got so cold.

I walked around downtown Rhinebeck for about twenty minutes letting the crowds thin out and the traffic leave but by that point the town really quieted down and most of the cars were gone as I did not see that much traffic.

It was fun to walk the town one more time and admire the beautiful Christmas windows of all the stores and the sparking white lights that lined the trees on both sides of the main street of Rhinebeck. It is really is picturesque.

I had full day of work the next day that including decorated houses to visit, historical society events to attend, an Afternoon Tea at the Newark Museum (see review on TripAdvisor and VisitingaMuseum.com) and then an evening selling Christmas trees for the Hasbrouck Heights Men’s Association (see blogs on Christmas on MywalkinManhattan.com) so staying overnight in Rhinebeck was not possible this year. It was going to be a long ride home.

It was worth it and a lot of fun!

Happy Sinterklass and Merry Christmas!

Check out the videos online on the Sinterklaas Parade on YouTube. It is an exciting night!

My Halloween Blog on the Halloween Parade in October:

https://wordpress.com/post/mywalkinmanhattan.com/10800

My blog on the Barnacle Parade in October:

https://wordpress.com/post/mywalkinmanhattan.com/10747

Day One Hundred and Fifty Walking the Borders of Central Park South Fifth Avenue to Eighth Avenue West 59th to West 54th Streets October 23, 2019

I finally entered the core of the tourist area of Manhattan with Central Park South, some of the the most expensive real estate in the world and some of the most spectacular views of Central Park. It is also on of the most iconic neighborhoods and most photographed in New York City. It is the neighborhood that is anchored by The Plaza Hotel in one corner, the Time-Warner Building Complex in another, the New York Hilton in another and the newly reopened Museum of Modern Art in the last corner. This are some of the most famous modern landmarks in Manhattan.

This neighborhood is also one of the smaller I have walked but packed with famous landmarks, lots of street art, many beautifully designed buildings and here and there remainders of the ‘old’ New York of the 70’s and 80’s that is being ushered aside by new buildings with new ideas.

It was a rather gloomy day when I started the walk and after a busy day working the Bread station at Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen. With the weather getting cooler, the Soup Kitchen’s needs begin to change and we are starting to see the affects of the Fall upon us with people needing warm weather outfits and more places to sleep than ever. It looks like it is going to be a very cold winter!

I started my walk in front of one of the most famous hotels in the world, The Plaza Hotel at 768 Fifth Avenue. This iconic masterpiece is more cult figure than a hotel. The 20 story hotel opened in 1907, replacing a smaller version of the hotel and was designed by Henry Janeway Hardenbergh in the ‘French Renaissance inspired chateau style’ design (Wiki). The hotel is famous for its restaurants, The Oak Room and the Palm Court for Afternoon Tea and has been used in countless TV shows and movies.

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The Plaza Hotel at 768 Fifth Avenue

Home Alone 2: Check in at The Plaza Hotel

The problem with walking around the hotel these days is that hotel security is really tight and since the recent renovation of the hotel, most the hotel is now closed off. You can still visit the Plaza Hotel Food Hall (which is wildly expensive) and the Palm Court for meals. Since the renovation that turned most of the hotel into condos, the hotel just does not have the same zing it once did. Everything now seemed so over-priced. The famous Afternoon Tea is now $86.00 (US) and even the burger which I enjoyed as a teenager is now $32.00 (US). I thought that was a bit much.

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The Palm Court at the Plaza Hotel is a New York Institution

Don’t miss this fun scene of The Plaza Hotel in Home Alone 2 with now President Trump

Another iconic hotel and once part of the Helmsely Hotel Empire is the Park Lane Hotel at 36 Central Park South. The hotel was constructed in 1971 and designed by Emery Roth and Sons for financier Harry Helmsely. The hotel was designed in the post-modernism design. The hotel was once noted when run by Hotelier Leona Helmsely for ‘Harry’s Bar’ named after her husband. It was noted for its drinks and complimentary appetizers. The hotel itself may be replaced by a super tall building in the near future.

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The Park Lane Hotel at  36 Central Park South

While walking down West 59th Street, look across the street into Central Park as the leaves are starting to change colors and the signs of autumn are in the air. They don’t call this Central Park South for no reason as you will see some the best and safest views of the Park here.

On the Park side of West 59th Street, you will notice the Monumento to General Jose de San Martin, the liberator of Peru just past the entrance to Sixth Avenue. This statue which sits at the entrance to Central Park South, makes a pretty bold statement. General Jose de San Martin helped liberate Argentina, Chile and Peru from Spain in the early part of the 19th century. The statute was created by French Sculptor Louis Joseph Daumas and the statue was given to New York City by the City of Buenos Aires in exchange for a statue of General George Washington that we sent to their country. The statue was dedicated in 1951 (NYCParks.org).

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General Jose de San Martin Statue on West 59th Street

Continuing the walk down West 59th Street, you will next pass the JW Marriott Essex House New York Hotel at 160 Central Park West. This iconic hotel was designed to be a condominium hotel complex and construction started on the hotel one day after the Stock Market Crash of 1929.

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The JW Marriott Essex House Hotel

The hotel opened during the Depression in 1931. In 1969, it was acquired by Marriott hotels and since then has has several owners and management groups. Take a good look at the hotel as its details are an excellent example of Art Deco style architecture.

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The Essex House details are a fine example of Art Deco style art

Walking further down West 59th Street, you will pass the famous NY Athletic Club at 180 Central Park South. This private club was founded in 1868 and has some of the best sporting facilities in New York City. This interesting building was designed by architect Charles W. Clinton and was built in the early twentieth century. Really look up to see the interesting details of the building.

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The New York Athletic Club at 180 Central Park South

As I continued walking down West 59th Street towards Columbus Circle I saw the familiar sites of that statue of Christopher Columbus and the Time-Warner Complex in the background. It has been a long time since I finished the Upper West Side of Manhattan and even as I walk those streets again I always feel like I missed something.

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Columbus Circle has changed over the last twenty years

Columbus Circle is always busy day and night with street vendors, bicyclists, performers and just people sitting and reading or enjoying the weather and people watching on a warm day.

The 76 foot statue was designed by Italian sculptor Gaetano Russo as part of a plan to honor Columbus’s discovery of the Americas as part of the 1892 commemoration of the 400 year anniversary of the event. If you look closely at the pillar, you will see the reliefs of the Nina, Pinta and Santa Maria ships on the memorial (Columbus Memorial and Wiki).

Columbus Circle itself was part of the great plan of Central Park in 1857 by Fredrick Law Olmstead, the designer of many parks in New York City as having four rotary entrances to the park. The other rotary in the neighborhood is Grand Army Plaza by The Plaza Hotel.

The Time Warner Center on the other side of the circle represents the massive change in the Upper West Side from a liberal working class area to the new luxury of Manhattan.  The Time Warner Center is a mixed use building containing office space,  the Mandarin Hotel, many exclusive restaurants and shops and entertainment. The building was designed by David Childs and Mustafa Kemel Abadan of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill. This modern palace of luxury replaced the old New York Coliseum and opened in 2003 (Wiki). Don’t miss just wondering around the building.

On the other side of the Circle is the new Museum of Art & Design that opened in 2008. The building was the former home of the Gallery of Modern Art designed by Edward Durell Stone in 1969. The building was modernized by architect Brad Cloepfil (Wiki) and the museum shows interesting aspects of art from media, video, painting and photography. I just recently saw the “Post Punk New Wave” exhibition at the museum.

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Museum of Art and Design at 2 Columbus Circle

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The Post Punk New Wave Exhibition at the Museum of Art and Design

As I rounded the corner, the neighborhood is full of Post War architecture but one building stands out with its modern twist. The Hearst Tower at 300 West 57th Street.

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The Hearst Tower at 300 West 57th Street

The first six floors of the original Hearst Tower were built in 1928 by architect Joseph Urban for the headquarters of the Hearst publishing empire. The building was originally supposed to have an office tower on top but the Great Depression put a stop to the construction. Take a look at the statuary, stone work and details of the original building before admiring the new addition (Wiki).

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Admire the detail work of the original 1928 building

Architect Norman Foster designed the 46 story addition to the building which was completed in 2006. The addition of glass and steel is designed in the ‘Diagrid’ pattern and was the first ‘green building’ with environmental features in New York City (Wiki).

As I walked the border of the neighborhood on West 54th Street from Eighth Avenue, you can see the traces of Old Residential New York side by side with the new office towers, hotels and the extension of the Museum of Modern Art on the corner of West 54th and Fifth Avenue.

The first building that popped out to me was The Albermarle at 205 West 54th Street. This 12 story Beaux-Arts building was built in 1903 and was once known as the Hotel Harding and then the Alba. Actress Mae West once living in the building. The hotel at one time was home to the notorious “Club Intime” run by Texas Guinan. This was a well-known Speakeasy during Prohibition (City Realty).

Take time to look at the detailed stone work and carvings along the building. It really stands out amongst its more modern neighbors.

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The Albemerle Building 205 West 54th Street

Walking further down the street, you will realize that this part of the neighborhood is home to many of the most famous ‘old line’ hotels in Manhattan. At 65 West 54th Street is the luxury Warwick Hotel.

The 36 story hotel was built by William Randolph Hearst in 1926 with the help of architect Emery Roth with the firm of George B. Post & Sons. The outside of the hotel is done with brick, granite and limestone giving it it’s unusual color scheme. Take time to look at the hotel’s detail work and old world charm in the lobby (Wiki).

 

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The Warwick Hotel at 65 West 54th Street

As you continue to walk the border of West 54th Street closer to Fifth Avenue, you will see the back of the Museum of Modern Art which just reopened after its renovation and expansion. On the northern side of West 54th Street is a series of historical mansions each with its distinctive look.

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James Gordon House at 9-11 West 54th Street

The James Gordon House at 9-11 West 54th Street really stands out. James J. Gordon was the owner of the Erie Railroad and two insurance companies and was a cousin of J.P.Morgan, the banker. The house was designed by McKim, Meed & White in the Colonial American style. Mr. Gordon’s family had come to the United States in the 17th century and was from an old line Connecticut family. Look at the classic look of the mansion and its elegant stone and grill work. The house is now on the market for 65 million dollars (Curbed New York).

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The William Murray House 13-15 West 54th Street

Another mansion that stands out along West 54th Street is the William Murray House at 13-15 West 54th Street.  These twin mansions were built for Larchmont businessman William Murray by architect Henry Janeway Hardenbergh in the ‘Renaissance style’.  This section of fashionable mansions is what is left of the Gilded Age residences in the neighborhood.

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Seed54 Sculpture at the corner of Sixth Avenue and West 54th Street

On the corner is the an unusual sculpture that I first noticed when walking past a hot dog vendor on the corner of Sixth Avenue and West 54th Street in front of 1330 Sixth Avenue building. This strange looking piece of artwork resembles an open air egg is by artist Haresh Lalvani. This unusual sculpture can be interpreted many different ways. The only problem is that the hot dog vendor on the corner distracts from even looking at it and I have passed it without even noticing it over the times I have been in the neighborhood.

Mr. Lalvani is a professional artist and Professor at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn. His emphasis in the work is his study of morphology into nature and its affects on art. ‘Seed54′ is part of his HyperSurface’ series. Mr. Lalvani is a graduate of the Pratt Institute of Architecture (Pratt Institute).

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Artist Haresh Lalvani in front of one of his “HyperSurface” works

At the very edge of the neighborhood is 254 West 54th Street now the home of a theater but in the late 70’s was home to the famous ‘Studio 54’ nightclub and epicenter of the Disco era. There has never been a club before and after that can compare to it.

The club was opened  in 1977 by club owners Steve Rubell and Ian Schager who had once opened clubs out on Long Island and to much fanfare and the party did not end until the club was raided for tax evasion and closed February of 1980. The party was over! The club continued to open over the years but the original magic was gone as the Disco era faded away in the early 80’s.

Studio 54

254 West 54th Street The famous former “Studio 54”

 

The history of the Rise and Fall of Studio 54

So Central Park South keeps morphing. From fashionable residential area to commercial properties and hotels now back to residential properties. The buildings get renovated or gutted, knocked down and then rebuilt or a bit of both. But you can see by the architecture, stores, new hotels and progressive office buildings the area just keeps changing. From the added Nordstrom’s (let’s see how long it lasts in this retail environment) to the converting hotels to condos back to hotels it is a never ending change.

I ended the day eating at the food court below the Time Warner Building right off the subway station under Columbus Circle (it is amazing where they put this stuff). The Turnstyle Underground Market is located at the West 59th Street entrance at the Time-Warner Building. Just take the escalator down.

Among the independent vendors that I passed, one stood out and it was one I had read about in the WestSider newspaper, Daa! Dumpling (See review on TripAdvisor) at 1000 South 8th Avenue.

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Daa! Dumpling is so good!

This little Russian Dumplings are delicious. Perfectly boiled and seasoned I had the combination chicken and pork dumplings with sour cream and pickles and each bite was a pleasure. The woman even kept it open for me when I ordered and closed as soon I started to devour my dumplings. For $8.00, they were so good and dipping them into the sour cream made them extra rich.

It was the perfect meal to end the day.

To see my write up on the border of Fifth Avenue with Midtown East, see MywalkinManhattan.com below:

Day One Hundred & Forty Six: Walking the Streets of Midtown East:

https://wordpress.com/post/mywalkinmanhattan.com/10451

Day One Hundred & Forty Five: Walking the Avenues of Midtown East:

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

Day One Hundred & Forty Three: Walking the Borders of Midtown East:

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

 

Places to Eat:

Daa! Dumpling

1000 South Eighth Avenue

New York, NY 10019

(212) 757-6207

https://www.turn-style.com/

Open: Sunday 10:00am-9:00pm/Monday-Saturday 10:00am-10:00pm

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d15165491-Reviews-Daa_Dumplings-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

 

Tri Dim Shanghi

1378 Third Avenue

New York, NY  10075

(212) 585-3388

https://www.tridimshanghai.net/

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

 

Places to Visit:

The Museum of Art & Design

2 Columbus Circle

New York, NY  10019

(212)  299-7777

https://madmuseum.org/

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

Fee: Adults $18.00/Seniors $14.00/Students $12.00/Members & Children 18 & Under Free/Thursdays after 6:00pm pay as you wish.

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

 

To see the historic buildings and hotels I provided all the addresses to see them on your own. Just look for the plaques on the outsides of these buildings.

 

Day One Hundred and Fifty Four 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.

Jim Rennert Statue

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.

Carnegie Hall Christmas

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 Three: 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 Schuyler. 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.

A group of us had light 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.

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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.

Louis Valentino Park.jpg

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