Tag Archives: littleshoponmainstreet.com

Day One Hundred and Twenty Seven: Here Comes Christmas! Part One- November 30th-December 14th, 2018

I do not know how Christmas creeps up every year. It starts when Forth of July weekend ends and then we blink our eyes and there is Christmas. The years just keep getting faster and faster. Even though the holiday season snuck up on me the month of December was full of interesting events.

I had to put my walk around Manhattan on hold for most of the holiday season. Between classes, work, the Fire Department and selling Christmas trees (as you have seen in other blogs), the month of December was a busy one. There were different events to attend, activities to participate in and places to visit.

Christmas to me is not just the holiday itself but the time of the year to give back and help raise money for those in need. I really believe in giving back to the community during the holidays so there was a whole series of fundraisers that I attended. As my friends always say of me, you never sit still for one minute.

The holiday season started right after returning from seeing Lillian out in Kings Park, NY. We had such a nice time together having dinner with the other families and enjoying the entertainment that I promised her that I would see her in two weeks for the family Christmas dinner at her facility.

The next day, I got up early to the firehouse to help wash the truck as the Hasbrouck Heights Fire Department was participating in the Annual Holiday Parade in Hasbrouck Heights, NJ. Our Chamber of Commerce sponsors the parade and Christmas tree lighting every year on Thanksgiving weekend.

The Holiday Parade in Hasbrouck Heights, NJ is always a lot of fun. It gives all of us a chance to give back to the community as the procession of floats, decorated cars and organizations participate in the parade ending at the circle near the edge of town for the tree lighting ceremony.

Christmas Parade in HH

Engine One in the Hasbrouck Heights Holiday Parade

Before the parade, all of us met up at the firehouse to wash and decorate the trucks and then stage by the Boulevard before the parade. I always enjoy watching the little kids in awe when the trucks pass by. It was cold the night of the parade so the crowds were thinner than previous years but still people looked like they were having a nice time. After the parade was over, everyone met at the circle for the tree lighting ceremony which got the usual ohhs and ahhs.

I had to be up early the next day as we had to unload 340 Christmas trees from the truck for the Annual Christmas tree sales for the Hasbrouck Heights Men’s Association. This is our organization’s largest fundraiser and it is our job to sell all those trees for our scholarship program. We must have set a new record for emptying the truck and by the end of the season for selling them (See Day One Hundred & Twenty Six).

It is something for me as next year I will be going on my twentieth year on the Hasbrouck Heights Men’s Association.  I have seen the growth of the organization and the all the high school seniors that we have given a head start with our scholarship program.  I can’t believe I have served on the Executive Board for four years now as Director (Sargent of Arms). It has been quite the journey.

HHMA Christmas Tree Set Up 2017

The members of the Hasbrouck Heights Men’s Association setting up the trees.

This starts the holiday season in Hasbrouck Heights, NJ with the Boulevard decorated for the holidays, fantastic window displays by our town merchants and everyone excited that Santa was coming.  The holiday season means holiday parties, tours of decorated mansions, hand writing Christmas cards and keeping everything in check. I went to a record thirteen Christmas parties and get togethers this year. I am the member so many organizations and with four jobs everyone wants to get together. I was a busy person this year.

Right after Thanksgiving Weekend with the endless activity and getting to work selling those trees, I had to go back to work and put my schedule together for the month of December.

My first weekend of December was busy with back to back activities with Sinterklaas Weekend ahead of me and the day after the Bergen County Firemen’s Home Association Christmas Party. This is always a busy weekend so I spend my weekend up in Rhinebeck at the Quality Inn (See review on TripAdvisor) while I run from one place to another. This was on top of the fact that my class would be presenting their final project for my Communications class the Monday I got back to work.

This was my sixth year participating in the parade. Rhinebeck, New York is a magical place at the holidays. The store windows are beautifully decorated with all sorts of merchandise that showcase the stores and the trees that line the downtown are layered with white lights that illuminate the downtown. Little wooden paintings line all the trees in the downtown area and garland accents a lot of buildings. It looks like a quaint little Christmas town straight out of a Currier & Ives print.

Rhinebeck at Christmas.jpg

Downtown Rhinebeck, NY at Christmas

I help with the set up at 10:00am at the Starr Library every year. This year the theme was the Butterfly. (At the cocktail party fundraiser before Thanksgiving, the Sinterklaas community was introduced to the Butterfly King & Queen and were given the traditional blessing before the start of the Sinterklaas season.) The committee created Butterfly puppets for the parade that we put together that morning. As I unpacked the truck with the other volunteers, I could not believe how fast the year went. I kept asking myself how did this go so fast.

The same group of volunteers I have worked with for four years and we all worked in tandem with each other, emptying out the truck, unloading all the puppets and then putting them all together and stacking them against the library for the night of the parade. I have done this for so many years, I know how to put most of them together in my sleep. We were done in about two hours and then I was able to enjoy the rest of the days activities.

I have been volunteering in the parade now since 2010 and I can definitely tell you that the number of people has tripled over the past four years alone. After the Opening Ceremony at the Beekman Arms Hotel (I get a kick out of Mother Holly’s ‘feeling Jolly’ speech every year), I got a copy of the day’s activities and then snuck up to Red Hook, NY right up Route 9 to visit a few stores and restaurants on my bucket list for my blogs (you will find Little Pickles Children’s Store on ‘LittleShoponMainStreet’ and Village Pizza II on ‘DiningonaShoeStringinNYC’ on my WordPress.com blog sites). Red Hook’s downtown was decorated for their Christmas event the next weekend. As one gallery owner explained “everyone is in Rhinebeck for Sinterklaas, so the town is quiet”.

I was able to visit businesses for my blogs that had not been open the weekend I visited President Van Buren’s home in Kinderhook, NY (see the Van Buren Homestead on my VisitingaMuseum.com site) and revisit old ones. I wanted to get a better feel for their downtown. (Please don’t miss the pizza at Village Pizza III at 7514 North Broadway. Their slices are excellent).

By the time I got back to Rhinebeck at about 1:30pm, I could not find a parking spot. The town was mobbed with people and almost every block around the downtown was lined with cars. I had to park almost five blocks away.

The rest of the afternoon was full of concerts, performances by the dancing polar bear and the grumpuses and lively singing at the churches. All four churches in town had either singing groups or bands. Lining the Main Street of Rhinebeck were all sorts of local charities selling Christmas cookies, hot chocolate, hot dogs and other snacks. Most were almost empty when I got back as people were snacking as they walked the streets to get from one activity to another.

Sinterklaas Parade III.jpg

The Grumpus singing and dancing in Downtown Rhinebeck, NY

I decided to relax and not run around for the afternoon as I have seen most of the shows and acts that were on the roster and pinpointed how I wanted to spend the rest of the afternoon.

I first visited the Butterfly nest that was located in the courtyard. The artists are very creative on the Sinterklaas staff. They built entire Butterfly cocoon that you could walk through. There was music going on in and around the cocoon and when I exited, the grumpuses were starting to do one of their dances in the courtyard. They had the whole crowd laughing and clapping along.

My stop on the event was the ‘Into the Light’ show at the Church of the Messiah. I have seen this show over the years of coming to Sinterklaas and I swear, the girl who plays the main character has not changed in the last five years. She is just getting older.

Sinterklaas Parade 2018 II.jpg

‘Into the Light’ Show

I spent the rest of the afternoon at the United Methodist Church listening to the Brass bands. I got to hear the Funkrust Brass Band and The Second Line Brass Band. It was nice to just sit back and relax and listen to the music. I had been running around the town the who afternoon.

After the bands, it was time to get ready for the parade. So back up to the Starr Library and my position in the parade as part of the “Star Forest” of puppets. We lucked out again that night as the weather was mild and it was in the high 40′ that night.

As the excitement of the parade started and we made our way down the hill, I noticed immediately that the crowds had really grown this year. They were five deep at the parade route on both sides and everyone had their cellphones out to record the parade. With all the white lights on the trees, all the decorated windows in full light and all the Sinterklaas stars that lined the route, it was a beautiful and festive night when coming into town.

Sinterklaas Parade 2018 III

Me in the Parade in the ‘Star Forrest; by the Mother Earth Float

People got so excited to see “Sinterklaas” (the Dutch word for ‘Santa Claus’) and the various characters in the parade as ‘Mother Holly’, ‘The Pocket Lady’, ‘The Dancing Polar Bear and his trainer”, ‘The Butterfly King and Queen’,  ‘The Grumpuses’ and ‘The Wild Women of Rhinebeck’ joined the brass bands, floats, puppets and singers, dancers, performers and animals who make the parade what is every year. It really is exciting to be part of this parade.

At the end of the parade route, we pass the stage with all the members of the Sinterklaas family to make our final goodbyes until next year and drop off the puppets. It was funny that the whole time I was walking in the parade I kept telling myself how fast the year had gone and I could not believe I was here again.

Watch me in the Sinterklaas Parade in the ‘Star Forrest’ on the right

I dropped off my puppet and went to watch the last of the parade before leaving for dinner. It was fun to watch the fire throwers perform at the end of the parade. It was a nice way to end the evening and after the performance was over, the crowds dispersed to go to dinner. Every restaurant in town was mobbed all evening.

I went to a barbecue restaurant that I had wanted to try for years, (See review on TripAdvisor). I had the buffet dinner ($20.00) that they had set up for the day and just ate. I had to admit as much as l liked the food, the waiter annoyed me when he charged me for the refills on the drinks (Noted in the review and in his tip).

As I walked back to my car, it started to mist and rain lightly. I did not realize how far I had packed away from town. I was four blocks away near the Duchess County Fairgrounds. That is how busy the town was that day. I just went back to the hotel and relaxed. I had an early trip the next morning.

The next morning after a big breakfast, it was off to the Boonton Firemen’s Home for the Bergen County Firemen’s Home Association Christmas Party for the residents that we throw every year. The facility was nicely decorated and we had some crowd that afternoon with all the residents present and their family members as well.

The band was a lot to be desired as they were off key most of the time and the lead singer could not sing a note. The place was really in the holiday spirit when member, Jerry Naylis and his family, who sing in their church choir and whose daughter in law sing opera, entertained the crowd. It really livened up the room and put us all in the holiday spirit. His little granddaughter stole the show when she sang ‘Jingle Bells’.

BCFHA XMAS 2018 III

The Naylis Family entertaining the residents at the Firemen’s Home in Boonton, NJ

During the intermission we gave the residents their Christmas presents, monogrammed sweatshirts with their names on them, as a gift which I still see them wearing everytime we come to the home for events (See blog, BCFHA@Wordpress.com-Bergen County Firemen’s Home Association below).

https://wordpress.com/post/tbcfha.wordpress.com/156

The residents look forward to this party every year and were very touched by the gifts and the holiday thoughts. It was a fun time for all.

BCFHA XMAS 2018 II

The members of the Bergen County Firemen’s Home Association with the residents in December 2018

After the party was over, the members of the Bergen County Firemen’s Home Association went to dinner at the Columbia Inn for our annual get together. We had a great time just catching up with one another and having a few laughs. The restaurants pizza is terrific too (See review on TripAdvisor).

With the weekend closing, it was back to work for me and another week of a round of holiday parties. First though, my students presented their project, “Bergecco-Park Consulting Inc. presents “Welcome Week 2019-Follow the Yellow Brick Road back to Bergen Community College”, their final exam project (See Day One Hundred & in ‘MywalkinManhattan.com’). The students gave a very professional presentation to a crowd of professors and administrators and members of the Athletic, Theater, Art, College Foundation, Alumni Association and Department of Special Services were on hand to view the presentation. It was well received by everyone and I could not have been prouder as a professor (please view that blog for the full project presentation).

bergecco logo yellow brick road final draft

Our logo for “Welcome Week 2019-Follow the Yellow Brick Road back to Bergen Community College”.

See the whole project presentation on my site, “MywalkinManhattan.com”

https://wordpress.com/post/mywalkinmanhattan.com/8022

After I finally had the presentation behind me, it was a series of holiday parties one after another between the school, the fire department and various organizations that I am involved in (and that number is high). I joined the faculty at the college for our annual holiday get together, which was really nice. They had a full Thanksgiving dinner for us and a lot of holiday cheer. The Administration got up and wished us all a happy holiday season and good luck with the remainder of classes. It was nice to talk to the other professors who had come to the presentation. They gave me nice feedback at the party.

The next night it was off to the Engine One Christmas Party at Segovia’s in Moonachie. It was a nice evening with the guys, toasting the year and the successes that we had as a company (See The Brothers of Engine One HHFD-Blog on WordPress.com). It had been a busy year for us activity and project wise accomplishing both getting the bell fixed and chromed and getting the tee-shirts finally ordered and out to everyone. It was nice to catch up with everyone in a relaxed environment.

On Friday night was the annual Friends of Mills Mansion Holiday Cocktail party and fundraiser. Normally this is the night before Sinterklaas but it seemed that no one was in the holiday spirit on November 30th so they held it the week after.

Mills Mansion Holiday Party

Me at the Mills Mansion Holiday Party with members of the Friends Executive Board and dancers from the Isabel Duncan Dance company.

We had a really nice time. The event for the first time was sold out and the mansion was packed with well dressed people. The food was excellent and the servers did a nice job passing appetizers to all the guests. One of the local wineries was sampling one of their new sweet ice wines as well as a Chenin Blanc. It was a perfect dessert wine for the holidays.

The rooms were fully decorated for a Victorian Christmas and the Jazz band they had performing were excellent. They were engaging and people cleared the floor for impromptu dancing. It was nice to see people get up and dance again. It was nice to just sit back and catch up with other members I had met over the years and listen to the music. After that I took a quick tour of the rooms before heading back to the main room to hear the holiday greetings from the Executive Board.

Mills Mansion Dining Room

The formal dining room at the Mills Mansion for Christmas

It was important that they sold out the event because the money will go to renovating both ceiling in the dining room and redoing the curtains that line the dining room windows. The mansion is slowly returning to its past glory and these events make this possible. The only problem was I was really tired after the event and it was a long ride home.

The weekend was coming up and there were two big events planned and I wanted to get enough rest to enjoy them. The first was on Saturday afternoon where I joined the Cornell Club as we we took a tour of the Ladies Shopping Mile and Gramercy Park with an event, the “Victorian Tour: Origin of Christmas Traditions” (See Day One Hundred & Twenty Eight). We literally walked this entire section of the City around Union and Gramercy Parks and walked up lower Sixth Avenue to visit the old department store buildings to know their history as part of the shopping area after the Civil War.

Ladies Shopping Mile

Ladies Shopping Mile on lower 6th Avenue

On Sunday was the dress rehearsal for the “Washington Crossing Reenactment” at Washington Crossing Historic Park. The event takes place every Christmas morning to remember when General Washington crossed the Delaware River and surprised the British. It was an interesting event that everyone should see once in life. It is very important to know how he crossed the river, in what type of boat and the conditions they were under that morning during a snow storm.

Washington Crossing Reenactment II.jpg

The Military Parade by the Delaware River

We started the morning with a Artillery Demonstration and then this lead to a Fife and Drum Parade in the historic village on the Pennsylvania side of the park. Then the troops had a Musket Firing Demo & Soldier’s Drill by the Delaware River. At noontime, the troops had their formation and the Reading of the Order of Battle.

See the parade of soldier’s before the Crossing December 2018

By 12:45pm when the troops made their trip, the event was narrated by Major General Walter Lord, U.S. Army (Retired). The troops had their parade movement and then they loaded the Durham boats, which were rebuilt for the event from the original designs that General Washington and the troops actually used.

Washington Crossing Reenactment.jpg

The Washington Crossing Reenactment 2018

What I found interesting about the event was that they used the same boats as General Washington used and even in normal conditions, it was hard to maneuver these boats in the river. One of the boats even had problems had with the crossing and it took them extra time to cross and they had rescue boats off to the side in case the boats lost control, Imagine doing this during an ice storm riding in boats with chunks of ice coming at you in the water. What these men did to save our freedom is commendable.

The reenactments have been going on at this site since 1838 where it was discussed the importance of this historic event. The first attempt at a proper crossing was done in 1844 but the crowd was so rowdy and drunk that it marred the event. When they tried the event again in 1876, it was so cold and the exposure to the weather and too much alcohol consumption by the crowd marred the event again and it was noted not to attempt is again for another hundred years (History of Washington Crossing-Park).

As part of a pledge project in 1947, a group of Rider College students attempted the crossing again and it received national attention. In 1953, a half-scale Durham boat was built and a proper ‘authentic’ using the same boats as used that day of the crossing and it was successful. Over 700 people came to the event and since then it has become an annual tradition (Washington Crossing Park History).

It was a busy first half of the holiday season and just kept getting busier as the holiday got closer. Between work and outside activities, I just kept running.

Please read about the Victorian Walking Tour on Day One Hundred & Twenty Eight.

 

Places to stay:

Quality Inn Rhinebeck

4142 Albany Post Road

Hyde Park, NY  12538

(845) 229-0088

https://www.googleadservices.com/pagead/aclk?sa=L&ai=DChcSEwjjlt6N7OvgAhWGhLMKHbcJBsgYABAAGgJxbg&ohost=www.google.com&cid=CAASE-RooTIxmc5SMBldM5FH_lmQddE&sig=AOD64_2mmL-hiEz3ZSdcMhSE1Dot8L-jQw&q=&ved=2ahUKEwiQnteN7OvgAhWkct8KHa-EB7wQ0Qx6BAgNEAE&adurl=

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Hotel_Review-g60801-d590312-Reviews-Quality_Inn_Hyde_Park-Hyde_Park_New_York.html?m=19905

 

Places to Eat:

Columbia Inn

29 Main Road

Montville, NJ 07045

(973) 263-1300

https://www.thecolumbiainn.com/

Hours: Sunday 1:00pm-9:30pm/Monday Closed/Tuesday-Thursday 11:30am-10:00pm/Saturday 2:30pm-11:00pm

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g46639-d639843-Reviews-Columbia_Inn_Restaurant-Montville_Morris_County_New_Jersey.html?m=19905

Smokey Rock BBQ

6367 Mill Street

Rhinebeck, NY  12572

(845) 876-5232

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

https://www.smokyrockbbq.com/

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g48486-d6684399-Reviews-Smoky_Rock_BBQ-Rhinebeck_New_York.html?m=19905

Places to Visit:

Downtown Rhinebeck, NY

http://www.rhinebeckchamber.com/

 

Washington Crossing Historical Park

Washington Crossing PE Road

Titusville, NJ  08560

(609) 737-0623

https://www.state.nj.us/dep/parksandforests/parks/washcros.html

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g46869-d3440313-Reviews-Washington_Crossing_State_Historic_Park-Titusville_New_Jersey.html?m=19905

Washington Crossing Historical Park

1112 River Road

Washington Crossing, PA  18977

(215) 493-4076

https://www.washingtoncrossingpark.org/

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g53924-d2522457-Reviews-Washington_Crossing_Historic_Park-Washington_Crossing_Pennsylvania.html?m=19905

Have a great holiday season!!

Here’s the whole reenactment event on YouTube of the Washington Crossing Event 2018

 

 

Advertisements

Day One Hundred and Thirty: I dedicate this to my friends, Lillian Heckler and Helen Chao. I will miss you both!

It is never easy saying Goodbye to a close friend especially ones that you have known for thirty years. I know that the holidays are never easy but when you had to attend as many wakes, Memorial services and funerals as I did this year, it puts the holiday season into perspective.

The toughest is when you lose a friend who has seen you from everything from the beginnings of your career, to the loss of a family member and all your successes and failures in life and at the same time never judges you for it but still offers sound advice. That is what a real friend does.

I just lost two friends I have long mentioned in my blogs, Helen Chao and Lillian Heckler, who have know for thirty and twenty-five years respectively.

Helen I had met on my second day of work at R. H. Macy when our Executive Training Program class took our tour of the Herald Square store. We started at the bottom the store and worked our way up the eight floors of selling space. One of the stops was in the Visitors Center on the Mezzanine of the store. We were introduced to the people who worked there and took some time to look around.

One of my best friends was living in Singapore at the time and I wanted to get him a store directory in Chinese as a gift to show him where I was working. So on lunch hour I doubled back to the Visitors Center to find one. This is how I met Helen. I asked her where I could find one and at the time there was none in Chinese only Japanese. Since he spoke both French and English on top of Chinese, I got him the directories in English, French and Japanese as a gift.

We just got to talking and we ended up talking the whole lunch hour. Later on that week I stopped by again to say hello and that started the friendship between myself, Helen and another woman, Linda, who also worked in the Department. We just got along so well that I would stop by every once in while when I was in Training Squad classes.

That blossomed into a long friendship between the three of us that lasted until Linda left the company three years later. When I returned from a two year job experience in our New Haven store (now closed) as a manager and then was promoted back to the Herald Square store as an Assistant Buyer, Helen and I resumed our friendship. We would go out to lunch when the two of us had time and would visit the store for the Flower Show and for Christmas when we were both off from work.

Over the years, we exchanged laughs and lots of stories. Helen told me how her family had come to America after the Cultural Revolution and her father had been an educator and had to leave the county. Her mother was Japanese and I am sure that did not make it easier for the two of them in those difficult times. I always found the stories about her life fascinating. She would also give me the latest stories of her children and grandchildren and their doings.

After her retirement from Macy’s and her family’s move from Valley Stream, NY to Flushing, NY admittingly like a lot of friends the connection that bound us, Macy’s, was gone and she was not in the City as much. Still over the years we kept in touch and would meet to see the Macy’s Flower Show in the Spring and in Chinatown for Dim Sum when she was at a doctor’s appointment. As time went on though, these became less and less as work  and commitments took away our free time.

In the later years, we saw one another at least once a year and I always called her on her birthday (we were ten days apart), Chinese New Year and Christmas and I always sent cards out to her. I had seen her for the last time in 2015 when I read about a Dim Sum Palace in Flushing that was noted as the best in the City and we decided to meet there. It was nice to see her again but even I had to admit things had changed. We ended up talking about the past and she wasn’t as chatty as she used to be. We had a nice time but it did not seem the same. The sad part was one month after our lunch, Helen suffered a stroke. I found that out about four months later when I was finally able to reach her husband.

Having taken care of my own father after his stroke and being the primary caregiver (Visit my blog, ‘BergenCountyCaregiver.com’ on WordPress.com), I was Helen’s biggest cheerleader. I would call at the holidays and her birthday to encourage her, send her cards to cheer her up and just be a friend. I always got the impression she did not want me to visit her so I respected that.

The last time I talked to her was on her birthday on October 1st, 2018 and we had a nice conversation. I could tell she was tired but she was happy I called and told me she had gotten my birthday card. She thanked me for always remembering after all these years. I did not realize that she had turned 90.

My last phone to Helen was on December 22, 2018 right before Christmas. I would be visiting my mother and our family at the holidays and would not have time to make my traditional phone calls Christmas morning as I had done the previous four years. This is when her husband had told me that she had passed away the night before. We had a very heartfelt conversation that lasted almost an hour and I gave him my condolences. He said that she always appreciated all those years of phone calls and cards and how much it meant that I never forgot her at the holidays and her birthday.

As we said our goodbyes and I wished him and his family a happy holiday season in these difficult times, it was surreal to know that I would not be talking to her again after thirty years of friendship. The one impression I got was that in some small way I was cheering her up and encouraging her all those years and maybe that made a small difference in her life that a friend did not forget her. I was glad she was part of the my life.

My friendship with Lillian happened many years later when I was an Manager at FAO Schwarz Fifth Avenue, the upscale toy store on Fifth Avenue. I had worked at the store as a manager from July of 1995 to February of 1996 right before I left to attend the Culinary Institute of America. I had casually met her and talked to her when I ran the Boy’s Action Department which was right next to the Pre-School Department where she worked.

How I got to know Lillian better is when I had to leave school in 1997 to earn money for my last semester and went back to FAO for seven months to work the holiday season as a full time manager. Management placed me in the Pre-School Department as a Manager as some of the other managers in the store said it was ‘difficult to work there’ because of all the long service employees that dominated the department. I ended up blossoming in the department and it was one of the best managerial experiences I had had in years.

Lillian greeted me in the Pre-School Department with “Hi Justin, I’m Lillian but you can just call me ‘Grandma’ if you like.” I told her I preferred to keep it professional and I would just call her ‘Lillian’. I loved her energy and the fact that she was 77 at the time and she could ring circles around most of the staff in the store. She and the other long service employees in the department Barbara, Clover and Shirley I found to be a real asset to the department in that they never called in sick, knew their merchandise, knew how to merchandise and could sell up a storm. We did a lot of laughing as well.

After I finished my holiday stint at FAO, I continued to stop in the store on my weekends home when I was in the City and would visit the ladies. We would still continue our conversations and I would regale my stores of what was happening in cooking school. Later on after graduation, I would work in the store again for another four months for the holiday season and would cover the department again. It was nice to work with that staff for the holidays.

After that, I moved on to Hawaii and California after graduation but I still kept in touch with Lillian and Barbara until they both retired from the company and eventually FAO would close the Fifth Avenue store after bankruptcy. Lillian, Barbara and I would continue to meet up in the City about four times a year for lunch and dinner and I would visit Lillian in Astoria, Queens when she got into her late 80’s and early 90’s. She lived by herself until she was 95.

A broken hip that year and some time in rehab led Lillian to an assisted living facility out in North Shore of Long Island near the fork of the North and South Shore of the Hamptons. I started to visit her again to catch up with her. After my own father passed (who this blog is dedicated to), I started to visit her more often especially close to her birthday and the holidays.

The last two years I had spent Easter, her birthday in June, Thanksgiving, pre-Christmas events and at least one day during the summer to visit her. I always brought out lunch for us (she liked to have Italian and Chinese because the facility did not serve the types she liked) and baked goods from the local bakery. In the warmer months, I would take her to the courtyard or patio and we would talk and converse with other caregivers and their families. We continued to have our long talks, our heart to hearts and laugh at old stories.

People at the facility that she was living at I could sometimes see could not understand why we were friends. This was considering the fact that I had known the woman for twenty four years and we had seen each other through the ups and downs of life. I never saw Lillian as being her age, I just saw her as being Lillian. I spent her 100th birthday with her on June 6th, 2018 (See Day One Hundred and Fourteen of “MywalkinManhattan.com”)and she had just as much pep that day as she always did. I drove her around the facility with balloons on her wheelchair and the staff and residents alike wish her a Happy Birthday. I could see the lives she touched there as well.

The last time I saw her was in December for the “Family Dinner” we had on her floor at the facility. I gave Lillian a choice when I came out to visit for Christmas, I could come to the dinner or to the concert the next week. It would be hard to do both with my work schedule and we chose the dinner. We had such a nice time (See Day One Hundred & Twenty Four of “MywalkinManhattan.com”) and did a lot of laughing and talking. My visits always cheered her up.

Something struck me though on my way to the facility. As I got closer and pulled off the highway, I had the sinking feeling that this was going to be the last time I would be visiting. It had really struck me hard.

I shook it off and decided to just have a good time. After the dinner was over, I headed home because I had to work the next day. Before I left, I talked with Lillian’s roommate’s daughters who joined us for dinner and gave them my number and my email address and asked them to contact me if anything were to happen to Lillian. It was them who told me that Lillian had passed.

I went to Northport for the wake and funeral and met Lillian’s grandchild and great grandchildren. We spent the night of the wake just sitting around talking. There were no other visitors besides myself and her family. We told our ‘Lillian’ stories. After the wake and her family left, I took a ride around Northport, NY and did not realize that such a pretty shore town existed.

Since Lillian had passed during the Epiphany, the town’s Christmas tree was still up at the harbor and I could not believe how beautiful and picturesque it was that night. I though “Lillian would have loved this”. I think that was the last gift she gave to me. They had a beautiful service for her and I said my goodbyes.

It was a tough time before and after Christmas but I am the one who was blessed with two wonderful friends who saw me through the beginnings of my career, my years in school and develop into the person I am now and was glad went through all the steps along the way.

So with much love, I dedicate this blog, One Hundred and Thirty and my midpoint of the island of Manhattan of my walk at 59th Street, to two very special “Ladies” in my life, Mrs. Helen Chao and Mrs. Lillian Heckler. Ladies, thank you for your love and friendship both for over twenty-five years. You are the best and I will not forget you!

With all my love, your friend, Justin!

 

 

Day One Hundred & Twenty Three: Halloween Again October 31, 2018

I can’t believe that the year went by so fast. I blinked my eye and the leaves changed colors and it was the end of the summer. The weather has been so unpredictable  since the beginning of 2018, it is hard to judge the seasons. It was a cold Winter, was cool and rainy most of the Spring, and the Summer was either humid or rainy. We never had normal seasonable days the way we have had in the past. We had two rather nice days around Labor Day Weekend and that was about it.

The Fall became cool very quickly. Where as last year, the leaves did not change colors until November 12th, this year it got really cool early in October and the leaves changed quickly and were off the trees because of constant rain storms. So much for the seasons!

Halloween was the exception to the rule. We had a sudden burst of an “Indian Summer” and the weather to 59 degrees on October 30 and the night of Halloween it was 64 degrees, a perfect night for the Halloween Parade. It was nice to have three days of above 60 degree weather and then by November 2nd back down to 40 degrees. Still it made Halloween more fun and engaging.

Halloween activities ranged from watching films to museum events to the best part of all, the New York Halloween Parade in Greenwich Village. Its more of a lower Manhattan parade now but still keeps it heart in the community. I even designed our shirts for Engine One HHFD with a Jack-o-Lantern logo.

Engine One Tee-shirt 2018

The Engine One Hasbrouck Heights tee-shirt logo.

My first activity of Halloween was visiting the Meadowlands Museum for the Annual Scarecrow Festival. The tough part was it was a gloomy day and there were not many participants. Still the people who came were really artistic and very enthusiastic. There were only a dozen or so scarecrows on the sticks but there were some interesting designs. The sad part was there were only about twenty or so people at the event. This could be a very interesting event if they advertised it more.

Scarecrow Day

Scarecrow Day at the Meadowlands Museum in Rutherford, NJ

The second event I attended was the Ridgewood Schoolhouse Museum Historical Society’s Annual Cemetery Walk through both the Old Dutch Cemetery and the Valleau Cemetery across the street. This is an interesting tour that I did last year by with different actors at the grave sites.

What the Schoolhouse Museum located at 650 East Glen Avenue in Ridgewood does is they wait until nightfall and they take you on a lantern tour of the grave sites of prominent members of the Ridgewood community and an actor plays that person and describes their life and their role in the community.

Ridgewood Cemetery tour I

Joe Suplicki from the Ridgewood Historical Society

Under the direction of Ridgewood historian, Joe Suplicki, who leads the tour into the graveyard with lantern in hand, you will walk a lighted path of luminaries into the heart of the cemetery to the different sites. The most interesting one I found on this tour was the mausoleum of J. J. Newberry, the founder of the discount department store. This company went out of business years ago but I had not realized the family had lived in Ridgewood.

Ridgewood Cemetery Tour II

The Cemetery Walk in Ridgewood, NJ.

The tour really does take you to the spooky parts of the cemetery and it is best to stay with the group. Although no one is popping out at you, you still have a creepy feeling from walking around all the tombstones. It is almost a relief to get back to the museum. The best part is that Demerest Farms in Hillsdale, NJ donates their apple cider and cider doughnuts to the museum for the end of the tour and that is a real treat.

You get to munch on doughnuts and listen to ghost stories from the head of the museum around ‘a campfire’. The best part is watching the kids scared from stories that are told and by kids I mean the forty year olds. Their children are too busy on their cell phones. The museum does a wonderful job every year and for the $10.00 donation it a nice tour.

My next venture on the Halloween list takes me to Croton-on-Hudson to the Van Cortlandt Manor to the annual ‘Pumpkin Blaze’. That is a site to see every year. Even though I have visited it over the last five years, I never get tired of looking at it. The estate is illuminated with hundreds of pumpkins. The pumpkins take all sorts of shapes, sizes, carved faces and even in the structures.

When you enter the estate, you are greeted with a form of mortuary, Halloweenish music that sets the tone for the walk. The Pumpkin Blaze has gotten even more popular in the four years that I have been going and I had to get the tickets way in advance. The weather was nice but it had cooled by this point and was in the low 40’s when I got there.

I was part of the last group that arrived at 8:30pm so the place was starting to clear out when I arrived. It is a lot easier coming towards the end of the night as it gives you more time to walk around.

The display was just as spectacular as in years past. You are greeted at the beginning of the path by the river with carved lit pumpkins of all expressions until you reach the pumpkin bridge, ‘The Pumpkin Zee Bridge’ and travel over it to the rest of the displays which include pumpkin jack in the boxes, a pumpkin ferris wheel and a pumpkin tunnel.

pumpkin blaze

The Pumpkin Zee Bridge and Spider Web at the Pumpkin Blaze.

Through out the display, I walked the path by myself to see pumpkin skeletons, the pumpkin version of the headless horseman, spiders, dinosaurs and a pumpkin circus train. This lead to the main house, the Van Cortlandt Manor, where there were pumpkin scarecrows, a pumpkin cemetery and a light show at the manor that was ablaze with lit pumpkins. The whole effect was engaging.

I doubled back around the cemetery and walked through the sea of pumpkins smiling and grinning at me. The music continued to play as I doubled back through the display but by this time the crowds started to thin and it got colder. When I reached the gift shop it was about 38 degrees I heard someone say. I looked back at the dark lawn with the music still moaning and thought about the amount of work to make this spectacular display every year.

My last event of the holiday was work as a marshal for the Halloween Parade in New York City. I have been working as a marshal for five years now starting in 2014. My job is the least glamorous part of the parade. I work the performance gate where all the performers enter the parade route to their floats. It is also one of the tougher jobs of the parade as I have to make sure all the people who don’t belong in the parade stay out.

It has gotten easier since the passes are now on cell phones or the performers print them out. They know that they have to bring it to the parade. What I love are all the people who try to wheedle  their way in to see the parade at its starting point. I have watched people say that they lived there, were staying at the hotel near by, they have dinner plans across the street, they are meeting someone there or try to sneak in with the groups of performers, After five years, I have gotten wise to everyone. The only problem I have is that I work with people who just let people in because they don’t want to confront people. I just tell them “and the cow jumped over the moon!” when they give me a lame answer.

This year I had a pretty good track record of keeping people out with new volunteers who followed the rules.  It is fun watching the parade come to life. I have watched hundreds of volunteers come through the parade entrance in costume and with instruments in hand who volunteer to make the magic of the parade.

After we got everyone in the parade route, we closed the gate for the night and the NYPD protected it. I got to go into the parade route and by Broome Street got to watch the parade come together with a combination of floats, performing acts and costumed participants progress up the Avenue. By the time I got to the parade starting point most of the parade was already over and had proceeded uptown. I got to see the last of the floats and bands head uptown.

Halloween Parade 2018 IV

The robot themed puppets in the parade.

By 9:00pm, the last float headed uptown with a group of Mardi Gras drag queens yelling and screaming over disco music. The rest of the people in the parade were the costumed participants from all over the world who were thrilled to be in the parade. We left yelling and cheering as they entered the parade route.

There were many creative costumes in the parade. You had your usual cartoon characters, police, fire fighters, superheros and witches and devils. There was not much politics as I had seen in the last two years though there were a few Donald Trump masks. Maybe because I was seeing the end of the parade head up town, it looked to me like people were there to have fun and march in the parade less the politics. I did see some unusual and creative costumes such as geometric angels, elaborate dress costumes and show outfits. There still is a lot of creativity left in the population and they like to show it off one night of the year.

To end Halloween, we all met at Tipsy Parson on 156 9th Avenue for a parade rap up party. It was a nice way to end the evening meeting with all the parade marshals and volunteers. They had a nice meal for us as they did the year before with pulled pork sliders, spiced chicken wings, deviled eggs, macaroni and cheese, chips and dip and assorted desserts. Everyone was starved by the time we got there at 9:30pm and made multiple trips to the buffet.

It was nice to sit back and laugh with everyone. My distant cousin, Mark Schuyler and I got to kid around through the evening about some of the stories we heard about people trying to sneak into the parade lineup. We have been swapping these stories now for five years ( I can’t believe it was that long) and still through the back of my mind I thought “We are here again? A year has gone by this quickly? Where did it all go?”

Through the laughing I realized that time has gone by pretty quickly and Christmas was right around the corner. As another Halloween drew to a close, I look back on this Halloween and realize that you can have fun without dressing up and Trick or Treating. You just have  to see where life takes you and the experiences in front of you.

Halloween is not so bad after all!

The Halloween Parade 2018:

The Greenwich Village Halloween Parade

 

Places to Visit:

Ridgewood Schoolhouse Museum & Historical Society

650 East Glen Avenue

Ridgewood, NJ 07450

(201) 447-3242

https://ridgewoodhistoricalsociety.org/

Open: Thursday 1:30pm-3:00pm/ Saturday 1:00pm-3:00pm/Sunday 1:00pm-3:00pm/Closed Monday-Wednesday & Friday

Admission:  By Donation

Review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g46772-d10353516-Reviews-Schoolhouse_Museum-Ridgewood_New_Jersey.html?m=19905

My review on VisitingaMuseum.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/visitingamuseum.com/1528

Van Cortlandt Manor

525 South Riverside Avenue

Croton-on-Hudson, NY  10520

(914) 366-6900

Open: Friday-Sunday 10:30am-4:30pm/Closed Monday-Thursday

Admission: By Donation-Tickets to the Blaze vary by membership and by year.

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:

 

Meadowlands Museum

91 Crane Avenue

Rutherford, NJ  07020

(201) 935-1175

https://www.meadowlandsmuseum.com/

Hours: Wednesday & Saturday-10:00am-4:00pm/The Rest of the week is closed

Admission: Donation

Review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g46796-d2403380-Reviews-Meadowlands_Museum-Rutherford_New_Jersey.html?m=19905

My review on VisitingaMuseum.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/visitingamuseum.com/1861

 

The Halloween Parade NYC

Along Sixth Avenue from Canal Street to 23rd Street every Halloween Night October 31st.

 

Places to eat:

Tipsy Parson

156 9th Avenue

New York, NY  10011

(212) 620-4545

http://www.tipsyparson.com/

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

Review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d1986889-Reviews-Tipsy_Parson-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

http://www.tipsyparson.com/

Day One Hundred and Nineteen: Walking the Dutchess County Fair Friday, August 24th, 2018

I took some time off from walking in the City to walking around Upstate. I read that the Dutchess County Fair was the last week of August and I had not visited it since my first summer when I was attending the Culinary Institute of America in 1996.  I wanted to see if it changed much in twenty years and it hasn’t.

From parking in the lot at the Dutchess County to the buildings that housed the animals and displays it looked to me that nothing changed in over twenty years with the exception of people taking pictures with their phones. Even then, I did not see that many phones out. The Fair was in its 173rd year and people were just having a good time with their families.

From walking to the admission booths (it was $10.00 to get into the fairgrounds) to walking the paths not much had changed. When visiting the fairgrounds means almost a step back into time when things seemed so much slower. Being just outside Rhinebeck with its galleries and high-end restaurants it seemed a world away.

My day started late as I had so many errands to run and work in the morning that I got off to a late start. I got to the Dutchess County Fair Grounds at 3:00pm and spent the rest of my afternoon exploring the Fair. It is so interesting to see how much has changed in the world but how little it really changes. A cow is a cow at the end of the day. How to take care of it and milk it have changed over the time and the philosophy of animals and their care have advanced but the cow is still in the pen, fed hay and goes Moo!

Walking the Fair is interesting in that it is broken down into many different areas to explore but when you first walk in what is there but all the food carts and booths. I have never seen so much deep-fried food in my life and I have been through the Feast of San Genaro dozens of times. There were food trucks selling fried dough, funnel cakes, Twinkies, brownies and zeppoli’s. It is hardly for the Vegan customer.

My first stop in the Fair was the Amusement section where all the kiddie rides, Ferris wheels, games of chance and thrill rides were located. In the early part of the day, the area was mildly busy but by the time I left and the lights came on the true ‘Wonderland’ came to life. The lights, the noise and all the screaming coming from the thrill rides brought the area to life. During the day though, it was little kids on the carousels, mini-rides and small track rides. To be a kid again at this Fair.

Dutchess County Fair II.jpg

Dutchess County Fair Midway

Leaving the Amusement area, I ventured next to the historical area of the Fair where the Cider Mill, Sugar Home, the One Room Schoolhouse and the Historic Train Station were located. These recreations of old Dutch farming villages showed a way of life from the turn of the last century and beyond. It is amazing to see how we have progressed in education since then but I think the times were different.

When I walked all these buildings that were created before electricity, computers and even modern light, I think there were less distractions and you had no choice but to work. Those were the days of back-breaking work loads and things were done totally by hand. Still it is interesting to see how these things were made.

The school room I have seen in many historic museums and have not much changed from their modern version except the furniture has gotten nicer and there is more light. The philosophy of learning the ‘ABC’s’ is still there and the black boards are still part of the routine. I still think it is the best way to learn.

The pathway lead me to the Animal Barns and this is where the Fair had not changed. The families stood guard at their at the different pens washing and taking care of the pets. I never saw such pampering to pigs, cows, chickens and goats. They were so well-groomed and well taken care of and their pens were so clean and if they weren’t the kids were right there to take care of it.

I saw the cow grooming show when I was visiting the Cow Barn and I have never seen such clean cows before. They were washed, brushed and combed by their owners and it reminded me of similar judging at the Dog Shows that I see on TV. When they walked their cows along the path in the ring, there was such pride in the owners faces especially to the winners. I have to say that the ribbons were very impressive.

The Llama Barn was interesting in that I usually find Llama to be friendlier but these animals really kept to themselves and stood in the corners of their pens. They seemed to want to socialize with one another and avoid the humans.

The Goat Barn was the exact opposite. I could not have met a friendlier animal with good social graces. They looked like they were so happy to see me. They all came running up to me as I stood by their pens. They are really are an observant animal. They just stare you down when you are looking at them and then they walk away.

The surprising part of the Pig Barn was that it wasn’t a pig pen. It was one of the cleanest parts of the Fair. Each of the stalls were really clean with only the smell of the pigs which probably surprised people coming up from the City. The only thing was some of these over-sized pigs didn’t fit into the pens and there was not much moving room for them. They really do oink a lot.

My favorite part of the animal barns was the Commerford’s Petting Zoo that they had between the amusement areas and the barns. I never got into petting zoos even when I was a kid but got some feed from what looked like bubble gum machines and then the goats and sheep were putty in my hands. They were so friendly and let me pet their warm fur. I have never seen so many happy faces chasing after me. The sheep had such a nice feel to them with their soft furry backs and the goats which I thought might be aggressive could not have been friendlier.

When you pet them they seem so grateful that you are scratching their backs. I ended up spending more time here than I planned feeding the animals and petting them. They seemed so happy that they got extra attention.

The Horticultural Building reminded me of my many trips to the Philadelphia Flower Show, large self-contained displays of flowers, lawn decorations and furniture each with their own them. There was a lot of creativity to their displays with water sources, planted flowers and shrubs all over the place all colorfully designed. They also used some statuary to accent the plantings. It was a nice size building made even bigger with these creative gardens.

After visiting all the barns and historic recreations, it was off for a late lunch. I headed back to the food trucks to decide between the cheese steaks, meatball sandwiches and fried desserts. I decided on a pulled pork sandwich with pickles and a Coke for lunch that was more than enough. The sweetness of the barbecue sauce with the roasted meat on a soft roll made a wonderful meal. The nice part was sitting under a tree on a picnic table to enjoy my lunch. On a nice day, there is nothing like it.

I avoided all the fried desserts and got a traditional pretzel with mustard from a vendor from Pennsylvania. The was an expensive pretzel at $8.00 but it was well worth it. The thing was huge, freshly rolled and made and was still hot. With a little mustard there is nothing like it. The softness and butteriness of the outside made every bite enjoyable.

After lunch, walked through the rest of the barns looking at rabbits, chickens and taking another peek at the Goat Barn. They are really are a beautiful animal. After leaving the barns area, I walked down to watch the Equestrians perform. There is such a grace to jumping and the ladies did a great job. Some of them are so poised on their horses.

As the afternoon wore on, my last stop was the Gift tents where they were selling handmade arts and crafts. You should see the work of these knitters, quilters and wood carvers. Some of the baby blankets and clothes were so beautifully made and colorful that I wished I had someone to give it to as a gift. The wood carvers were getting ready for the holidays with Santa’s and snowmen. It never ceases to amaze me that we are in a perpetual state of Christmas no matter what time of year it is. The surrealist look of many of these Santa’s  were done by the cut of wood that the artist had to work with when carving the piece. These men and women are very creative in their work and they will be back in October for the Craft’s Show.

Before I left for the evening, a saw a long line forming by the 4 H Exhibit Building and I found out they were selling giant homemade milkshakes with the milk and cream from the Dairy Barns. The sold these large Vanilla, Chocolate and Strawberry shakes for only $5.00! That was one line I did not mind being in. I ordered this Vanilla shake where you really could taste the fresh ice cream which was was loaded with several scoops. There is nothing like a fresh milkshake with real ice cream. It was the perfect way to cap off the evening.

Walking the Fair at twilight you really see it come to life with all the lights, screaming kids by the rides and hungry patrons at the food trucks. It is so funny to see these small kids gobble down cheese steaks and fried dough. They had some appetites! When you work on a farm and take care of the animals as I saw the fairgoers did they must burn off all the calories.

It was a great day and I learned a few things about Animal Husbandry and landscaping. I just wondered why on the way home it took me twenty-two years to come back.

The Dutchess County Fair is the last week of August and is well worth the trip up to Rhinebeck.

Dutchess County Fair

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

 

Day One Hundred & Seventeen Walking Governors Island in New York Harbor July 3rd and August 30th, 2018

My aunt called me out of the blue and said that she had an extra spot on a trip to Governors Island with her Retired Teachers Association group and I jumped at the chance. I had never been to the island before only having seen it from a distance so it was a chance to visit the island with a tour group. The nice part of the tour was that we could walk independently around the island, which my cousin, Bruce and I decided to do.

When going to Governor’s Island during the week, there is a $3.00 round trip fee to travel to the island, which is now open seven days a week. On the weekends, the ferry is free so it is a treat to go to the island as a type of ‘Staycation’. For people living in New York City, it is an oasis away from the hustle and bustle of the island of Manhattan and the surrounding boroughs.

Governor’s Island has been a public space since 1996 when the US Coast Guard left the island and  part of the island reverted to the National Park system.  Since then, twenty-two acres of the park where the forts are located have been part of the National Park system and the remaining one hundred and fifty acres of the landfill area are part of the Trust of Governor’s Island, which is an entity of the City of New York.  Governor’s Island is now part of Manhattan. Since 2001, the island has reinvented itself and in 2012, Mayor Bloomberg broke ground on the master plan for the island. In the next six years, the island has developed into the park is has now become with more developments in the future (Wiki).

Governors Island II.jpg

Governor’s Island

On a nice day, there is nothing like a boat ride out to the island. It only takes about ten minutes to leave from the Battery to the dock of the island. It’s a nice ride over to the island with the most spectacular views of Lower Manhattan, Jersey City, NJ, Liberty Island and the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. These are all ‘must sees’ when you are visiting New York. The views of Lower Manhattan are most breathtaking when you reach the area around Castle Williams, one of the two forts on the island.

Once you arrive on the island, the gift shop and information booth is to your left up the hill and the public bathrooms are to your right. Make sure to make pit stops at both before venturing further on the island. At the gift shop you can get a map of the island to know where to walk and the public bathrooms at the dock is the best place to go on the island.

We started our walk of Governor’s Island on the path to Castle William, one of the two forts of the island and one of the last relics of ‘Old’ New York. Castle William is fort that protected New York Harbor for the War of 1812 and after that was used during the Civil War as a jail for prisoners of war and then during World Wars for training base.

The fort is made of red sand stone quarried in New York area and was designed by Lt. Colonial Jonathan Williams, who was the Chief Engineer of the US Army Corps of Engineers. The fort was designed in a innovative circular pattern, which protected the fort from all sides and was considered a prototype for a new form of coastal fortification (US National Park System).

The tour was very interesting as we started in the court yard, which had once been a training ground for the troops. They took us on a tour of the jail cells on the first floor, solitary confinement on the second floor and then took us to the roof to see where the cannons were located that protected the harbor during the War of 1812. The views were breathtaking of Lower Manhattan and Jersey City, NJ. One a clear day, the view is amazing with all the soaring towers, pleasure boats and helicopters above.

The tour took us all over the building and the guide told the story of how the fort supported the City during The War of 1812 and its use in later years for other military service. Since the City was surrounding by forts on the various islands protecting New York Harbor, the British did not venture to New York during the war.

As we left the Castle William, we walked the path toward Fort Jay, which is located in the middle of the island. The fort is currently being renovated and some of the walls were crumbling around us. The interior of the fort is open and there are rocking chairs around the porches that line the insides of the fort while the outside walls of the fort are being renovated and repaired.

Castle William

Castle William

Fort Jay has been altered and rebuilt since its inception around 1775, when defenses were made on the island by the Continental troops during the Revolutionary War. This fort and Governor’s Island was held by the British during the war and surrendered  after the war in 1783. With renewed tensions abroad, the New York Legislature and United States Congress reconstructed the fort in 1794 as part of the First American System of Coastal Fortifications. The fort was called Fort Jay in 1798 for New York Governor John Jay (US National Park Services).

The fort went through extensive renovations between 1855-1921 with the brick barracks being replaced, interior remodeling and the addition of officer’s apartments and a golf course. Fort Jay has sat vacant with minimal upkeep since closure of the Coast Guard base in 1997 and you can see the current renovation going on now (US National Parks Services). There is also an art installation in this fort that is on view.

Fort Jay.jpg

Fort Jay

Both forts do close early for tours and viewing. Make sure you get to the island early so that you can take the tours or visit on your own to admire the architecture. They are interesting examples of early harbor defenses not just in New York but of the coastal cities that were established before the Revolutionary War.

Exiting the old fort, look up to see the statuary going through a renovation. The soft stone of the fort have been damaged by the sea air over the years and the eagle statues need extensive repairs.  The pathway then leads to Nolan Park, home of the Officers Homes when they lived on the island. These are currently being renovated for non-profit organizations. I had a nice walk through of one of the homes on a second trip to the island and it is now part of the NY Audubon Society. There are a lot of interesting displays that the Society shows on both floors/

Most of the homes are still going through a renovation and are not open to the public but it is interesting to see the Victorian architecture and how the officers and their families must have lived when they were stationed here. Even when walking through the homes you can see that a lot of work is needed in these buildings with the sagging porches and peeling paint.

Leaving Nolan Park you head to the South Battery, where their is an active school and it leads to one of the three piers on the island. To the north of this is the Parade Ground where they were setting up for one of the summer movies that was going to be shown on the lawn with the last one being in mid-September.

We walked along the Yankee Pier on the southern part of the island and looked over the views from Brooklyn, which are not that exciting and then walked to Liggett Terrace to cool down and grab some lunch.

On the weekends in the warmer weather is there are a lot of food trucks on this side of the island and we stopped at Fauzia Jamaican Food truck stand right near the building for some Jerk Chicken sandwiches. This was an experience. I felt like I was sitting in a little restaurant in Kingston. They had the tables set up just so with colorful chairs and decorations and they were playing music by Luciano, a well known singer from Jamaica.

fauzia's food truck.jpg

Fauzia’s Jamaican Food Truck

The food at Fauzia’s is really good. Their Jerk Chicken sandwich($8.00) has some kick to it and when you add their hot sauce,  it ‘sets fire’ in your stomach. The sandwiches are a rather large so be prepared to have an appetite. The ladies are really nice and engaging to talk to and bring a warm island hospitality to the dining experience.

After lunch, we sat by the fountains near the building and I amused a bunch of ten year olds by taking off my shoes and socks and walking around the shooting fountains. The temperature had hit 98 degrees and was really humid and I could not take the heat. So I splashed around the fountain. The jumping and shooting of the fountains felt really good on my legs and feet and my cousin could not stop laughing.

The rest of the afternoon we explored the southern part of the island which is all landfill (from building the first subway system in the City and the island grew an additional 150  acres). Once you leave Liggett Terrance, you follow the paths to the southern (or western) part of the island which is all divided up park land by a series of paths.

We walked through the Hammock Grove and relaxed in the hammocks that are always in demand. It is a nice place to relax on a hot day but do spray yourself as the bugs can bite here. All along the paths there are local wild flowers and trees so that paths can be very colorful in season. The hammocks are a nice place to just lie back and relax. On a hot, humid day they were not as much fun but nice for a break. My second time to the island was after a rain storm and the bugs were biting me so I did not venture long.

The Play Lawn area around the south part of the island was booked for an event called “Pinknic”, a picnic where everyone wore pink and drank rose wines. On a 94 degree day with the humidity hitting almost 100 degrees drinking rose wine in that heat was the last thing I would want to do but my cousin and I watched as each wave of ferry riders became pinker in color in their dress and the place filled up.

We walked up The Hills section just below the Play Lawn and that is some exercise. Climbing up the rocks on the ‘Outlook Hill’, can be trying but the views are well work it. When the two of use reached the top neither of us took the time to notice that there was a path leading up the hill that was paved. When you reach the top of the hill, there are the most interesting and beauty views of the island and of the harbor region. Since Governor’s Island is in the heart of the harbor, you can see everything around the surrounding islands and Lower Manhattan.

Picnic Point was closed for private events on both trips I made to the island and the area surrounding The Hills is being developed for a future hotel or inn on the island from what one of the tour guides I over-heard talking to a group of tourists.

We traveled up the northern part of the island and noticed a tent village. The Collective Governor’s Island was having a soft opening the day we were there and just starting to receive guests. The Collective is an eco-friendly resort concept and the tents are hardly ‘roughing it’ with gourmet treats and meals, 1000 thread sheets and plush Turkish towels and some of the tents have private baths. The day were there was no one on the property yet and the second time I visited the island, it was not yet check in time and the place looked like a ghost town with no one there. I will have to revisit before it closes for the season.

On my second trip to explore the island, I attempted to slide down the two slides found in the ‘Slide Hill’ section of The Hills. Good luck on that. At 6:4, I had to push myself down the slides while the little kids slide down with no problems. The slides are hidden by trees on this part of the hill but just look for the little and big ‘kids’, who are laughing hard at each other.

Slide Hill.jpg

Slide Hill

As we traced out steps back to the Manhattan Ferry landing, we passed various restaurants that were open for the season. The Oyster House has a nice menu and the bar area was packed that afternoon and Taco Beach, a slightly more casual place was full of guests enjoying Mexican food. Those I will have to try on future trips.

I would like to point out the various public arts works on the island by in the Chapel of St. Cornelius, which is an old church on the island near the South Battery and the Liggett Archway in the middle of the Liggett Terrace. These sculptures are by artist Jacob Hasimoto, who currently lives in Queens, NY.

Mr. Hasimoto was born in 1973 in Greeley, CO and is a graduate of The School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Having shown in museums and galleries all over the world, this is the first major installation by the artist (Artist Bio)

Using sculpture and installation, the artist creates worlds from a range of modular components: bamboo and paper kites, model boats and even AstroTurf-covered blocks. His accretive, layered compositions reference video games, virtual environments and cosmology, while also remaining deeply rooted in art-historical traditions notably, landscaped-based abstraction, modernism and handcraft (Artist Bio).

In the historic Chapel of St. Cornelius which closed in 2013, the artist reopened it with a sculpture of 15,000 bamboo and paper kites done in white and black named ‘The Eclipse’. To me it looked more like a sunrise/sunset pattern in the sky than a full eclipse but the artist really captured the progressiveness of the color and light of the movement of the sun and moon. It blew me away of the intricate detail work the artist had to figure to get the placement just so to get this effect. It takes over the whole church and you have to see it from all sides to fully appreciate it.

In the Liggett Hall archway, his sculpture ‘Never comes Tomorrow’ contains hundreds of wooden cubes and two massive steel funnels which showcases the artists interest in architecture. To me I found it whimsical and fun showing a combination of a work straight out of ‘Alice in Wonderland’ or ‘The Phantom Tollbooth’. It looked like a series of trumpets with the communication devise in the middle of the structure.  Hurry though, these sculptures I read online will only be up until Halloween.

After a hot and sticky day on the island both times, it is a pleasurable trip back to Lower Manhattan. The breezes are really nice and the view unbelievably beautiful. When you hear the words “New York” this is what you would imagine it to be.

Governor’s Island is from May 1st until October 31st during the season from 10:00am-6:00pm Monday-Thursday and on Friday’s and Saturday’s there are late hours until 10:00pm but only until September 14th. The island is open on Sunday from 10:00am-7:00pm. The ferries run on the hour except extended on the weekends. The last ferry departs the island 6:00pm Monday-Thursday and 7:00pm on Saturdays and Sundays. The island closes after Halloween night.

Depending on the part of the season you visit, there is loads to do on the island from just walking around, biking, skate boarding, touring or just relaxing.

All restaurants and historical sites are located on Governor’s Island and you can see it all by accessing their website at http://www.govisland.com.

https://govisland.com/

Day One Hundred & Sixteen: Walking the Streets of the lower Upper East Side June 3rd-August 10th, 2018

It took several weeks to cover the lower part of the Upper East Side. The weather has started to get hotter and now with the Summer here, you have to deal with more humidity. That’s why I like to discover where all the public bathrooms are located in the City. When you drink as much water as I do on these trips, it can become the most important part of the walk (outside the great restaurant find or interesting historic site). You need to know your priorities when you walk the City especially when the temperature hits in the mid 90’s.

Walking the Upper East Side has its extremes in housing and architecture as it moves east from Central Park to the river. Here and there are little ‘treasures’ of buildings and places of business that pop up from block to block. As the weather has gotten hotter and more humid, I have taken my time to really walk the streets of the neighborhood and explore it properly. That is why it has taken so long to finish. There are a lot of great things to see on the lower part of the Upper East Side.

My walk took me to East 59th Street starting at Grand Army Plaza at the statue of General Sherman, which is a big meeting and tourist site right off the edge of Midtown near the Plaza and Pierre Hotels. Many tourists meet their buses here and it is the southern entrance to the Central Park Zoo and then onto Central Park. On a hot day, many people were sitting on the benches in the shade.

The Statue of General Sherman was created by American and New York artist Augustus St. Gaudens in 1892 and finished it in 1903. He modeled the bust after the General who lived in New York City at that time after the Civil War. General Sherman distinguished himself during the Civil War with his army taking Atlanta and then marched to the Atlantic to cut off the South (Central Park Conservatory).

In 2015, the Northern part of the Grand Army Plaza was restored by the Central Park Conservatory which included cleaning the statue and applying a layer of gold leaf covered with wax on the outside. The rest of the plaza was landscaped with new trees and is now ADA accessible (Central Park Conservatory).

This gilded statue now serves as a welcome to the southern part of the park as well as a focal point to the plaza. It sits majestically almost guarding the park from intruders. The interesting part of its placement here is that the Sherman family wanted it placed here after they rejected Riverside Drive near Grant’s Tomb (See VistingaMuseum@Wordpress.com)(Central Park Conservatory).

East 59th Street is a busy part of the neighborhood with a bevy of upscale stores, restaurants and hotel plus a meeting point for buses loaded with tourists and the carriage trade around the park. Central Park is a huge draw to people sunning themselves on the lawns and going to the zoo, playgrounds and the carousel.

I love walking around this area looking at the luxury stores and walking around the Pierre and Plaza hotels, especially around the holidays. Unfortunately because of recent occurrences, the security at the hotels becomes a point of harassment where you can’t even walk around to look at the displays in public areas anymore.

Pierre Hotel.jpg

Pierre Hotel

Also, the economy and rent increases have hit this area just as hard as the rest of the City and even the upscale stores of Fifth, Madison and Park Avenues have moved to either less choicer areas or have taken root on Lexington or Third Avenues, making them now more expensive. The old brownstone homes and businesses that used to line the Avenues (See the Avenue walks of the Upper East Side on previous ‘MywalkinManhattan.com’ entries) have given way to modern office and apartment buildings with not as much character and space. They rent mostly to the chain stores that can afford it.

I started my first day after a long day in the Soup Kitchen. They put me on the busy Bread Station where we could barely keep up with demand. Sometimes I feel the homeless and the working poor are acting entitled, like the Bread Station is some sort of Starbucks and we should have exactly what they want to eat. When one guy came down hard on us one afternoon I kindly reminded him that the food here is donated and distribute out what we get. It’s not like we order the bread. It is very generously donated by Amy’s Bread and Rockland Bakery. That’s why I like walking around so much, it gets that irritation out of my system as I realize that it is not there fault.

After Soup Kitchen, I decided on eating a few snacks before I came uptown. Before I got to Soup Kitchen, I stopped at Shamas Deli, a tiny little hole in the wall deli at 150 West 38th Street (See review on TripAdvisor). I had passed this place a million times over the years and decided that I needed an bacon, egg and cheese sandwich. It was okay but for $3.25, I thought it was fair. Not the prettiest place but it serves its customers well.

After Soup Kitchen, I like to go to Fu Xing at 273 West 38th Street (See reviews on TripAdvisor.com and DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com) for cream and roast pork buns ($1.25) for a quick snack and then for lunch at Non Solo Piada at 302 West 37th Street for lunch. They specialize in Roman street food and make an egg, Italian sausage and cheese wrap called a Cassoni, which is almost like a calzone. Their prices are very reasonable (See reviews on TripAdvisor and DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com)and their selection of tiny pizzas and calzone like sandwiches are not just delicious but reasonable. These two restaurants cater to the Garment Industry crowd who look for a reasonable lunch and thank God, I found them as well. I highly recommend them.

Non Solo Piada

Non-Solo Piada

I walked up to East 59th Street via Fifth Avenue and even in the Herald Square area you can see that it is quickly gentrifying. All these old buildings that were once whole-sellers for the Garment Industry have made way for hotels and fancy condos.

Even Fifth Avenue changes from the New York Library on up. It used to be that from East 34th Street to East 59th Streets, there were all of these exclusive stores starting with B. Altman’s at Fifth and East 34th Street ending with the Pierre Hotel at East 60th Street. Now it looks like a cross between North Michigan Avenue in Chicago and the Garden State Plaza Mall in Paramus. The stores and restaurants are more moderate as well as there are many empty store fronts which you would not have seen pre-2008. Now prime upscale real estate sits empty.

Things are changing as you get to the Upper East Side border as well. The stores are still nice but not as exclusive as in the past. I still take a short cut through Bloomingdale’s at 1000 Third Avenue at East 59th Street. It is fun to look at the displays or have lunch at Flip, on the bottom level or 40 Carrots for frozen yogurt (See reviews on TripAdvisor). When the humidity starts, this is where I like to go to cool off and they have nice bathrooms on the bottom level and on the Forth Floor.

Bloomingdale’s has some great restaurants. I have been to Flip on the lower level of the Men’s Department twice for lunch when walking in the neighborhood. Their Heritage Burger and fries ($19.00) is delicious. The burger was perfectly cooked and topped with onions and cheese. The second time I ate there, I tried their Flip Signature Grilled Cheese, which was a combination of three cheeses, bacon, jalapenos peppers (which it could have done without) served with shoe string fries ($16.00). This was a nice combination of flavors and with the fried egg added it gave it a nice complexity of flavors. It would make a nice brunch item.

Flip Bloomingdales.jpg

Flip at Bloomingdales

I have written many times on 40 Carrots on Eighth Floor for their frozen yogurt and on a humid day, which there were many of during this part of the walk, it made going to the Eight floor of Bloomingdale’s well worth it (See all reviews on TripAdvisor).

As I walk past the store fronts and apartment buildings, I am greeted at the end of East 59th Street at Andrew Haswell Green Park by the Queensboro Bridge to look at the sculpture, the East River Roundabout by Alice Aycock again (See Walking the Avenues of the Upper East Side on ‘MywalkinManhattan.com). It is a nice place to just relax and watch the East River go by. There are nice seats to sit down and relax in.

Andrew Haswell Green Park.jpg

Andrew Haskell Park

Below the bridge, there is 24 Sycamores Park between East 61st and 60th Streets. It is a nice place on a hot day to sit under a tree and cool off. They also have nice bathrooms and a great water fountain with cool NYC tap water to fill the water bottles up with on a humid day. It is a very popular park for the neighborhood children and their babysitters so that means a lot of noise. It is a real family environment.

24 Sycamore Park.jpg

Twenty-Four Syacmore Park

Since I was meeting a good friend later that evening for dinner and a stay in Long Island City, I decided to walk the length of the Queensboro Bridge to Long Island City neighborhood in Queens, NY. That was interesting. The walk over the bridge led me to downtown Long Island City but along the way I passed over Roosevelt Island, the projects that face the park in Long Island City and then into a very gentrifying Long Island City. I swear the entire neighborhood is being knocked down and rebuilt from ground up. All over the place there are apartment and office buildings.

I spent most of my time walking over the bridge dodging joggers and bicyclist while watching what I was seeing in front of me. What a view of the City! The Manhattan skyline is just breathtaking from the bridge and you get a perfect view of the Upper East Side. I am convinced it is better to live in Roosevelt Island than on the Manhattan itself just for the view. I still can’t believe they built projects with a view of the river and the Upper East Side skyline. That’s the progress of the 60’s.

When I got to the other side, I walked around the area to see a rapidly changing environment. Bike paths were all over the place and smaller buildings were giving way to what looks like another city. I was floored with all this progress and square footage in such a small period of time. Even the next morning when I walked around, I could not believe how much of the neighborhood was being leveled giving way to  Long Island City becoming almost a new city on its own. It seems to be happening overnight.

When I walked back over the bridge I walked directly back to the other side of East 59th Street and walked to the theater district to join my friend, Maricel and her friends for dinner at Viv Thai at 717 9th Avenue between West 48th and 49th Streets (See review on TripAdvisor). It is the most beautifully designed restaurant with interesting lighting and an enormous dragon to greet you at the door. The food here is excellent! We shared a Fried Calamari with sweet sauce that was perfectly cooked and I had the Pad Thai with chicken which was flavorful with a generous portion of chicken and noodles.

After a quick drink, Maricel and I went to the Fairfield Inn in Long Island City at 2927 40th Road (See review on TripAdvisor), right near where I had taken the walk at the Queensboro Bridge. I was so exhausted from all the walking over the bridge and the rest of the neighborhood, that I went out like a light as soon as I hit the pillow. So much for engaging in conversation.

The irony was that I had just explored the area just a few hours before. While Maricel slept in the next morning, I explored the area in more detail and the whole neighborhood it seems is being torn down and rebuilt as almost a second city. After the hotel’s buffet breakfast (pretty good), I checked out and took the bus home. Enough walking for those two days.

I resumed my walk around the Streets of the neighborhood two days later starting on East 60th Street and then I worked my way up through the neighborhood. There is a lot to see and do in these many blocks. The neighborhood is rapidly changing and in the short time since I have walked the Upper and Middle parts of the Upper East Side many businesses have closed their doors and the store front remains empty.

Long Island City Skyline.jpg

The ever changing skyline of Long Island City

East 60th Street with its juxtaposed architecture offers a few gems amongst the newer construction. You just have to look up. When rounding 5th Avenue and East 60th Street take time to look at the architecture of the Metropolitan Club, one of the oldest and most exclusive private clubs in the city. The marble work on the club’s exterior has an elegant, polished look to it. The building was designed by Stanford White for the club which was founded in 1891 (Wiki).

Metroplitan Club

Metropolitan Club

Between Lexington and Third Avenues on East 60th Street, look to your left as you are approaching Third Avenue and you will see the original entrance to Bloomingdale’s Department Store. This entrance has been incorporated into the current store and notice the mansard roof which was part of the original design of the store when it was founded in the late 1880’s.

On the corner of Lexington Avenue and 60th Street, there is a small brownstone attached to a modern building. This was the home of an old woman who owned the last apartment in the building and had lived there for years. She was the reason why the building is still there as they had to build the current building around her. She was quoted as saying she would not move for any price as it gave her proximity to Bloomingdale’s. When she died when the current building was finished, the owners simply padlocked the brownstone and there is still stands as a symbol of corporate defiance.

On the corner of 2nd Avenue and 60th Street is Tony and Joe’s Pizza at 1097 First Avenue near East 60th Street (See review on TripAdvisor), an old line neighborhood establishment. I stopped in for a snack and had a slice of pizza and a coke ($4.95). The pizza is pretty good and the staff had their eyes glued to the soccer game that was on TV. It’s a nice place for lunch.

I took another break in the 24 Sycamore Trees Park and need a rest in the shade because of the heat. The humidity was really getting to me. The one thing I like about this park is that there is plenty of places to sit under the trees, they have decent public bathrooms that they keep clean and are open until 5:00pm and they have a great water fountain that spurts out cool, New York tap water which is great when filling your water bottle. Its just nice to relax here.

When making your way to East 61st Street, you will pass the decorative structure of the Queensboro Bridge, with all its geometric designs on the exterior. This is where you can enter the walkway to walk or bike to Long Island City. If you have a chance to do this, take in the beautiful views of the river and the Upper East Side skyline and at the end of the walkway, walk around Long Island City to see the creation of a new city from the ground up.

Queensboro Bridge

Queensboro Bridge

Right near the entrance to the Bridge is the Mount Vernon Hotel & Garden at 421 East 61st Street (See TripAdvisor and VisitingaMuseum@Wordpress.com), a much overlooked historic home/hotel built in 1799. The museum is run and owned by the Colonial Dames of America. This very overlooked historic building and museum was once the home to Abigail Adams Smith, the daughter of the President John Adams. There is a very interesting one hour tour ($8.00) of the museum.

The Mount Vernon Hotel Museum was a ‘day hotel’ which meant that City dwellers, mostly the growing middle class, would come up to the hotel for the day for lunch or tea and recreational pursuits. You would spend the afternoon in the formal parlors for games, music and readings. The tour takes you through all the rooms, dining rooms and kitchen. It is an interesting tour if you like historical buildings. Don’t miss the beautiful gardens in the back of the building (See review on TripAdvisor and VisitingaMuseum@Wordpress.com).

mount vernon hotel museum.jpg

Mount Vernon Hotel & Gardens

There is an interesting waterfall that lines the building on the corner of Third Avenue and East 61st Street. You tend to miss these public spaces if you are not looking at them. As you walk from Second Avenue to Park Avenue, you enter the Treadwell Farm Historic District.

The Treadwell Farm Historic District was founded in 1967, making it one of the oldest in the City. The district extends from Second to Third Avenues between East 61st to East 62nd Street. This had been once part of the Treadwell family farm which was bought by Adam Treadwell in 1815 from the Van Zandt and Beekman families, who had owned the land previously. In 1854, the family sold the land for development. This happened between 1868-1875 and the they were building Italianate row houses, some still standing today (Wiki).

Treadwell Farm Historic District.jpg

Treadwell Farm Historic District on the Upper West Side

You will notice that on the side streets from Third Avenue to Fifth Avenue and from East 59th Street to East 79th Street are part of the East Side Historic District which was founded in 1981. According to their Friends Group, it is one of the largest Historic Districts in New York City. This area cover a whole array of architectural types from the grand mansions near Fifth and Park Avenues to the limestone, brownstone and detailed apartment buildings that line block after block of the district (Friends of the Upper East Side Historic District).

When exploring and admiring these buildings in both historic districts, really look up to see the details to these homes. Here and there residents have added plantings and artwork to the fronts of their homes. The growth of vines up the walls and statuary really adds to the detail of these buildings.

When rounding East 62nd Street, I came across the beauty of 36 East 62nd Street with it’s gorgeous stone work, interesting keystones over the windows in the form of faces staring at the street and intricate iron work. This interesting building was designed in 1917 for the Links Club, a golfing club, by the firm of Cross & Cross for the club. The faces really do stare at you when you pass the building but remember to look up and take time to look at the details.

links club.jpg

36 East 62nd Street (Links Club)

Another historical building is the Cumberland House at 30 East 62nd Street on was once of the home of President Teddy Roosevelt as the plaque states on the building. This luxury apartment building offers many luxury features and stands guard in this historical neighborhood.

I stopped for lunch at the Ritz Diner at 1133 First Avenue #1 and the corner of East 62nd Street. The food was so-so. I was surprised for the reviews it has gotten online. I had one of their lunch specials ($12.95) for a bowl of Matzo Ball soup and a Gyro wrap sandwich. The soup was delicious, rich in flavor and the matzo ball was light as a feather. Their gyro wrap I would avoid. It was a large soggy mess with too much iceberg lettuce and tomatoes. The sauce in it made it even soggier than the cut tomatoes and the whole thing fell apart. I checked the reviews online and it seems that the restaurant does breakfast best.

As I rounded East 63rd Street, I finished for the day. Between the heat, the walking  and the afternoon at the Soup Kitchen, I had enough for the afternoon. This more time to explore the neighborhood with a fresh mind.

On my third day in the Upper East Side, I started my day with another long day putting my culinary skills together to work in the Prep Kitchen. We had loads of vegetables to prep for lunch for the next two days so we were all kept busy that afternoon. Surprisingly, I had the energy to walk up to East 63rd Street to continue the walk.

The first thing to check out is the Lowell Hotel at 28 East 63rd Street at Madison Avenue. This elegant little hotel is one of the ‘Leading Hotel’s of the World’ and whose architecture is elegant and inviting. The potted plants and well appointed doorman really give it that European looking touch.

Lowell Hotel.jpg

Lowell Hotel

Along the way while walking down East 63rd Street, look up and admire the buildings that line the area from Fifth Avenue to Lexington Avenue. The historic district offers all sorts of interesting townhouses to admire.

At the very end of East 63rd Street you will reach the bottom of Rockefeller University and the entrance to the ramp that leads to the walkway that lines the East River. Take time to walk up the ramp and walk up and down the riverwalk. The views of Roosevelt Island on a beautiful day are just breathtaking.

Rockeller University

Rockefeller University (you have to be checked in to get on campus)

At 101 East 63rd Street, you will see a modern slick brownstone looking glass building named ‘The Halston House’, which was once the home of the New York designer, Halston. Many of the designers legendary parties and get togethers of the Studio 54 crowd took place here according to local legend (Wiki).

Halson House.jpg

Halson House

Walking on East 64th Street was routine until you arrive at the edge of York Avenue and you start to peak into the Rockefeller University campus. Unlike the other blocks, it just seemed like a row of buildings and stores. This is when newer architecture shows its lack of character of the ‘brownstone blocks’.

Crossing over to East 65th Street, you will notice the historic signs of the twin Roosevelt Houses at 47-49 East 65th Street. This is the New York home of Franklin Delano and Eleanor Roosevelt and their children and Franklin’s mother, Sara Delano Roosevelt. The home was finished in 1908 and the President and Eleanor moved into #49 while Mrs. Roosevelt moved into the adjoining #47 house.

Roosevelt House.jpg

Roosevelt House

The house was their city residence while Springwood in the Hudson River Valley served as their country estate. This is where Franklin started his political run and Eleanor got more involved in her own career in public life entertaining many famous political and foreign  visitors. The house remained in the family’s hands until the death of Sara Delano Roosevelt in 1941 and the house was bought by Hunter College where it is now part of the Public Policy Institute of Hunter College. There are tours of the house during the schools year on Saturdays.

As you head towards Fifth Avenue, you will find the Kosciuszko Foundation at 15 East 65th Street. The interesting part of this Foundation is that it was named in honor of Tadeusz Kosciuszko, a Polish general and patriot who migrated to the United States and fought in the Revolutionary War. The one time Polish American Scholarship Committee was established in 1923 to bring students to the United States. The building was designed by Harry Allan Jacobs for James J. Van Alen, who was a member of the Astor family (Wiki).

Kosciuszko Foundation

Kosciuszko Foundation Building

When rounding onto East 66th Street, there are many interesting stone townhouses that line both sides of the street. One of them being the home of artist Andy Warhol at 57 East 66th Street, where the artist lived with his mother from 1974 until his death in 1987. The Historical Landmark  Preservation Center erected the plaque in honor of the artist in 1998. It is the first memorial to the artist in New York City.

Andy Warhol House.jpg

Andy Warhol House

Toward Fifth Avenue at 6 East 66th Street is the home of the Lotus Club, one of the oldest Literary Clubs in the United States founded in 1870. The French Renaissance style building was built in 1900 by Richard Howland Hunt for the home of Maria Shepard, a granddaughter of William H. Vanderbilt. Notice all the detail work on the outside of the old mansion, which was going through a cleaning when I passed it.

Lotus Club.JPG

The Lotus Club building

At 3 East 66th Street, there is a plaque dedicated to President Ulysses S. Grant as the site of the house where the President wrote his memoirs. It has since been replaced by a stone apartment building. I stopped here for the day as I was pooped from this part of the walk of the neighborhood.

My last full trip of the neighborhood took me from the top portion of East 66th Street to the bottom of East 72nd Street. I had had a long day working the Bread Station at the Soup Kitchen and walked from West 27th Street to East 66th Street via Fifth Avenue so I got to see more of the City as planned.

I walked East 66th Street again and there is more interesting architecture to see along the street. At 45 East 66th Street, look up to see the detailed Gothic architecture and details toward the top of the building. You see more of this type of Gothic architecture at the Park Avenue Armory which stretches from Park Avenue to Lexington Avenue the former home of the Seventh Regiment of the National Guard and was designed by Charles W. Clinton, a former regiment member. It is now used for entertainment.

Park Armory.jpg

Park Avenue Armory

There is a lot of beauty to the old carriage houses from 110-112 East 66th Street and  were probably the carriage houses and stables to the old Fifth Avenue mansions. These brick buildings  with their arched fronts and key stones have since been converted into private homes.

At 122-124 East 66th Street look up to admire the interesting iron grilling work with its almost southern looking accents at the top. The design is done in graceful ovals along the grill work. The building is home to the Cosmopolitan Club that was founded in 1909.

When rounding East 67th Street, stop at the New York Blood Center to visit their memorial to the victims of 9/11 just outside the building. The little metal footsteps by the wall are pretty touching and show that the tragedy is not forgotten in any part of New York City.

When walking further down the street, you will reach the twisted statue by artist Tony Cragg, Runner 2017, a creative twisted sculpture that sits on the Park Avenue island surrounded by flowers. Tony Cragg is from England and studied art at the Gloucestershire College of Art. He uses a combination of synthetic and natural elements to this art and it show in this twisted beauty of a sculpture that looks almost like a moving tornado.

His work is part of the NYC Parks ‘Art in the Parks Program’, bringing temporary contemporary art to the parks (NYC Parks.org).  Mr. Cragg’s works appear in five different locations on Park Avenue.

Tony Cragg Park Avenue statue

Tony Cragg Sculpture

Another interesting piece of sculpture is on Fifth Avenue and East 67th Street on the edge of Central Park. It is the statue of Seventh Regiment of New York 107th US Infantry’, whose building on Park Avenue I passed many times when criss-crossing the neighborhood. It was designed by member of the Regiment, sculpture Karl Illava in 1927. Mr. Illava it was said drew from his experience from serving in the field of the Regiment and used his own hands as the model for the ‘doughboys’ he depicted (NYC Parks.org). I find it fascinating how many times we pass these sculptures in Central Park without ever stopping to notice them.

Walking past the New York Police Department Precinct 19 and Fire Department of New York Ladder 16 and Engine 28 and admire the beauty of the buildings that they are housed in and the surprise of the buildings are that they are part of Hunter College.

Police Sergeant Nathaniel Bush, who was responsible for designing the force’s new station houses from 1862-1895, laid out the plans for the station. It was a four story Italian edifice of red brick with bluestone copings and Terra cotta trimmings and used the combined styles of Second Empire, Romanesque Revival, Neo-Grec and Renaissance Revival.

The FDNY building, which was designed in 1886 by architect Napoleon LeBrun, was originally the FDNY Department Headquarters until it moved down to Centre Street, now it just houses the companies. (Ladder 16 history). In 1980, the buildings were declared by the Landmarks Preservation Commission to landmark status (Daytonian New York)

In 1986, when Hunter College wanted to expand the college, there was an agreement to preserve the facade of both buildings and renovate them. A new building was built in the back and the facade’s of the front buildings were preserved to landmark status. The renovations were complete in 1992 with the Hunter portion separate from the civic buildings and the police station uses the the upper floors of the old fire station. These buildings were re-designed as a landmark in 1998 (Daytonian New York).

Police District 19 building.jpg

Police District 19 Building

When walking back to the East River on East 67th Street, take a break in St. Catherine’s Park between East 67th and 68th Streets off First Avenue. It is nice place to take a break and sit down but by no means quiet especially in the summer months that I was walking the neighborhood. Children were running all over the park, chasing one another while parents and nannies traded stories on the benches and under the trees trying to escape the afternoon sun. It has a very nice playground and loads of benches to sit back and relax on.

The end of the block by York Avenue houses the hospitals of Sloan-Kettering and Cornell-Weill and this complex covers from First Avenue to FDR Drive from East 67th Street to East 71st Street. This is a busy area around York Street with ambulances and cars all over the place and security is high. The Cornell-Weill building still is something to see with its large cathedral looking exterior and gardens for guests to relax in the front. Don’t think of lingering as security is all over the place. The same goes for Rockefeller University at the end of York Avenue. You need a pass to go through the gates to walk on their landscaped campus.

As you turn the corner to East 68th Street, head back to the Hunter College campus between Park and Lexington Avenues and stop in the Karl & Bertha Leubsdorf Gallery at 132 East 68th Street (See TripAdvisor and VisitingaMuseum@Wordpress.com), one of several art galleries that are part of the Hunter College campus. There was a very interesting exhibition of West Coast LGBT art from the 70’s on display at this small but edgy gallery on the main campus. The best part is that the gallery is free to the public and the gallery takes less than an hour to view so its not over whelming.

Hunter College Gallery.jpg

Hunter College Gallery

If you are hungry, there are all sorts of food trucks parked outside the main entrance to the building of Hunter College. Their selection of all sorts of foods cater to the student palate and include hot dogs, Halal foods, hamburgers and fries. All of this for under $10.00.

As you head back to Central Park between Park And Fifth Avenues, you will notice that this area is under all sorts of scaffolding and there is a lot of renovation work on the buildings going on here.  A lot of the stone work is being sandblasted back to its original beauty and the homes are getting gutted for present or new owners.

Heading back to Fifth Avenue admire the almost confection of a marble townhouse at 35 East 68th Street with its curbed windows, grill iron work and Queen-Anne decorations. A similar home is at 40 East 68th Street. This large mansion by the park has ornate details and lavish decorations around the windows and roof.

35 east 68th street.jpg

35 East 68th Street

When making the turn around Central Park, stop for a rest under the trees on one of the many benches that line the path on Fifth Avenue. Its nice to stop and people watch in this area.

When walking down East 69th Street, there are a series of stables from 147-161 East 69th Street that have now been converted into homes. These rare structures are a holdover similar to other blocks off Fifth Avenue that used to cater to the elite mansion dwellers.  These small buildings were located close enough to their owners but far enough away to not bother them (NY Times 2014). These small structures have now been converted into homes and studios. The stable at 159 East 69th Street was owned by John Sloane of the Sloane Department Store family and the stable at 157 East 69th Street was owned by artist Mark Rothko, who took his life there in 1970.

The most picturesque part of the of East 69th Street is when you walk between First and Second Avenues on a beautiful tree-lined block of homes full of character and many styles. It is full of marble and brownstone townhouses which have been restored by their owners. It just looks like a neighborhood. I stopped here for the day and relaxed at St. Catherine’s Park. Between all the walking and the heat I was exhausted.

Before I walked the rest of the neighborhood a few days later, I decided to double back to the upper part of the Upper East Side and take a free tour of Gracie Mansion, the home of the Mayor of New York City and his family (See review on TripAdvisor and VisitingaMuseum@Wordpress.com). On a beautiful day being next to the river, there is nothing like this tour.

Gracie mansion

Gracie Mansion

The house is now located in Carl Schurz Park but originally it was part of the estate of Archibald Gracie, a prosperous merchant, who used this as his country home (See write up on VisitingaMuseum@Wordpress.com).  The house was built in the Federalist style in 1799. The house was in the family’s hands until 1823 when Archibald Gracie had to see the house to pay off debts. The house had many uses over the years and became the Mayor’s residence in 1942.

The tour was really interesting and the best part is the tour is free. You have to go to the Gracie Mansion website at www1.nyc.gov/site/gracie/visit to set up a time and tickets. The tour meets only on Monday’s at 10:00am, 11:00am and 5:00pm and lasts one hour.

It is an interesting tour that takes you through the Susan Wagner addition toward the back of the mansion when the former Mayor’s wife added the ballroom, receiving room and the library. The front of the house that we toured was the original part that included the living room, dining room and foyer and the formal stairs to the second floor. We were able to peak outside into the gardens that were in full bloom to see where they were setting up for a luncheon. Our tour went through some of the historical furnishings of the home and the fact that art work from museums in the City were borrowed to decorate the house. It was interesting to listen to the history of the house and its current use and I highly recommend the tour.

After the tour was over, I walked from East 84th Street back to York Avenue and East 69th Street to continue my walk of the neighborhood. I started at the hustle and bustle of hospital zone by Cornell-Weill. I walked the campus from East 68th Street to East 70th Streets to see the hospital. The main building is the most interesting and when you walk into the lobby (hopefully as a visitor), it is quite beautiful for a hospital. Security is running around all over the place so don’t linger long here but take time to walk the garden in the front.

I walked past the hospital zone and walked down East 70th Street towards the park. Around this part of the neighborhood, more college campuses seem to pop of with the New York School of Design and Marymount College having branches here. There are also a lot of small art galleries and museums to choose from and take time to visit them (See my reviews and write ups on TripAdvisor and VisitingaMuseum@Wordpress.com).

The first gallery I visited was the New York School of Interior Design Gallery at 170 East 70th Street. The gallery is open when the school is open and is free to the public. It had the ‘Senior BFA Thesis Projects’ of the graduate students on display. The seniors were reusing historical buildings for modern use and not only had the full design but all the materials that would be used for the interior.

New York School of Interior Design Gallery.jpg

New York School of Design Galleries

Technology has changed since we did these projects in the 80’s and 90’s and they are able to make 3D designs that show the finished product. I was floored by the creativity but realized that we had to do more with less twenty years ago. If you get a chance to see the gallery when it is open, take about an hour out to visit it. The show was a treat. Try to visit the gallery when it  is open.

For lunch that afternoon, I tried New Shanghai Restaurant at 1388 Second Avenue between East 71st and East 72nd Streets (See reviews on TripAdvisor and DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com). The food here was excellent and attracts quite the crowd at lunchtime. One afternoon I had the General Tso’s Chicken with egg fried rice and an egg roll with a Coke ($10.44) and the other afternoon I tried the Orange Chicken with egg fried rice and a egg roll with a Coke ($10.44). Both were wonderful and the portion sizes were huge. You will not need dinner after eating here. Both had a sweet and spicy flavor to them  and served with with steamed broccoli.

On the corner of Lexington Avenue & East 70th Street are two establishment’s you should not miss that are housed in one of the most picturesque brownstone’s covered with ivy that I have seen in New York City. On the corner at 960 Lexington Avenue is Corrado Bread & Pastry  (See reviews on TripAdvisor & DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com). The food here is wonderful, very reasonable and if you can nab one of the seats outside, a true New York experience.

Corrado Breas & Pastry.jpg

Corrado Bread & Pastry

The seats overlook this part of the neighborhood and being around the corner from Hunter College, it attracts a mix of students, tourists and Upper East Side socialites. Their sandwiches are unusual with items like Ham with tomato and truffle butter ($3.50) and Brie and Tomato with truffle butter on a French Baguette ($6.50). The two times I went their for dessert after a meal elsewhere, I tried the Apple Turnover ($4.00), which is loaded with sweet apples in cinnamon in a flaky pastry and one of the their Cheese Puffs ($1.75) which are a type of chewy, cheesy popover. A real treat is their Chocolate Porcupine ($7.00), which is made of layers of chocolate cake and mousse than covered in a chocolate ganuche.  The dessert is decorated with a face that smiles at you.

Next door and interesting to visit is Creel & Gow at 131 East 70th (See LittleShoponMainStreet@Wordpress.com) for the most unique gifts and decorative objects. They have all sorts of items from all over the globe with bowls from India, throws and pillows from Asia, taxidermy of exotic birds and all sorts of shells layered with silver. I have not seen merchandise like this since my travels abroad. Its a real treat.

creel and gow

Creel & Gow

From Lexington to Park Avenues on East 70th Street take time to admire the tree lined street with its interesting mix of brownstones and stone townhouses. These blocks in the historic district are what make Manhattan Manhattan. This stretches from East 70th Street to East 71st Street in this side of the neighborhood.

As you walk past Park Avenue, notice the Explorer’s Club building at 46 East 70th Street  with its Gothic looking entrance. This is the home of the Explorer’s Club, which was founded in 1904 and is headquarters in New York City. The club promotes which bonds explorers in good fellowship and promote the work of exploration (The Explorer’s Club history). Membership is by application and invitation only but they do have a Friends group and the club is open once a week on Monday’s Public Lecture Day for touring. Take time though to look at the outside architecture of the building.

Explorer's Club

Explorer’s Club

One block down at 725 Park Avenue at East 70th Street is the Asia Society Museum which I visited for a second time. I tried to visit their restaurant but for the second time it was already closed for the day. Since I had seen the upstairs galleries early in the walk of the neighborhood, I toured the gift shop. There are a lot of interesting things to buy at the shop.

At the end of the block on the corner of Fifth Avenue and 1 East 70th Street is the Frick Collection Museum, who was showing the ‘George Washington’ exhibition. The nicest part of visiting the collection is just walking around the private home of the Frick Family (See reviews on TripAdvisor and VisitingaMuseum@Wordpress.com).

The Frick Collection is housed in the former residence of Henry Clay Frick (1849-1919), which was designed by Thomas Hastings and constructed in 1913-14. After Mrs. Frick’s death in 1931, changes and additions to the building were made by the architect John Russell Pope and in 1935 the Collection was opened to the public (Frick Collection pamphlet).

Frick Collection.jpg

The Frick Museum

(The Collection preserves the ambiance of Mr. Frick’s private home and visitors are therefore asked to observe regulations necessary for protecting the works of art and their domestic setting: See regulations on site-Frick Collection Pamphlet).

Rounding East 71st Street the next day, I was determined to finish the neighborhood. With so much to do and see you will miss a lot if you keep your eyes glued to a cell phone.

This includes admiring the tree lined blocks between Fifth and Lexington Avenues with the interesting brownstones, stone townhouses and beautiful apartment buildings. When walking down block don’t miss some of the unique little shops that line East 71st Street.

Folly, a gift and decorative shop, at 157 East 71st Street is one store to stop by (See LittleShoponMainStreet@Wordpress.com). The shop is tucked into the bottom of a brownstone and has the most welcoming entrance. The owner, Emily Hottensen, could not have been more welcoming to me and her little dog knows his customer service as he will charm you to death. The shelves are lined with stenciled boxes of candy, decorative pillows and lamps, stationary and all sorts of items that would make the perfect host gifts. All I did was rub her dog’s stomach while I was there as he wanted a lot of attention.

Folly.png

Folly

Another nice shop is Cotelac at 983 Lexington Avenue for the latest in French fashions (See LittleShoponMainStreet@Wordpress.com). This small chain of French designer clothing has the most interesting designs in coats, dresses and tops all beautifully displayed. They also have nice accessories on the tables toward the middle of the store.

Cotelac.jpg

Cotelac

I stopped at the Hewitt Gallery of Art on the main campus of  Marymount Manhattan College at 221 East 71st Street (See VisitingaMuseum@Wordpress.com) to see the ‘Senior Solo Show’ of the MFA students. They displayed their final projects and there was a collection of prints, pictures and oils to view and buy. All the art was on sale, which I had never seen before. The video art by student Corinne Grahn on emotions and the Plus size prints of Brianna Fazio should be seen and these artists watched. The art was very interesting.

Hewitt Gallery.jpg

Hewitt Gallery

Don’t miss the elegant headquarter of the National Society of Colonial Dames of the State of New York at 215-217 East 71st Street. The building was constructed in 1927 and looks like an old mansion. The club runs the Van Cortlandt House in the Bronx for touring.

At the Belaire Building at 525 East 71st Street they have a nice sitting area in front of the building with gardens and a fountain that I see the doctors in the hospital use for breaks. It is a nice place to just sit and relax on a hot day, especially one with a lot of walking around.

On my last day in the neighborhood, I went museum hopping. I first started at the Metropolitan Museum of Art at 1000 Fifth Avenue (See reviews on TripAdvisor) and did a walking tour of the ‘California Contemporary Artists of the 1970-80’s’ with a long time docent of the museum, Judy. She was explaining the art and how the artists wanted to forge their own path away from the New York artists. She mentioned the video “Whatever happened to my Future” by video artist, Ilene Segalove and I found it very profound, especially to anyone over the age of 35. I have it below to share with the readers.

I also stopped at the Met Breuer (the old Whitney Museum) at 945 Madison Avenue (See review on TripAdvisor) for the last day of the “Like Life Sculpture, Color and the Body” exhibition. The exhibition was described as ‘Seven hundred years of sculpture practice, from the 14th century Europe to the global present that explores the narratives of sculpture in which the artists have sought to replicate the literal, living presence of the human body’. I found some of the funeral looking works to be creepy and some the the contemporary statues to be unusual. This exhibition (now closed) was not for everyone.

The last part of the touring took place at the Mount Vernon Hotel Museum and Garden at 421 East 61st Street (See reviews on TripAdvisor and VisitingaMuseum@Wordpress.com). This historic building is one of the last links to 19th century New York and should not be missed.

As I rounded East 72nd Street, my final destination, I stopped at La Crosta Restaurant & Pizzeria at 436 East 72nd Street for lunch (See reviews on TripAdvisor and DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com). They have the best lunch specials for $7.00 and their pizza is excellent. I had the penne with Bolognese sauce ( a meat sauce) and the meal was wonderful as usual. They give a very generous portion size and the sauce is packed with flavor from the rich ground meats they use in their sauce.

La Crosta Pizzeria.jpg

La Crosta Pizza

When walking some the blocks again up by the Met on another day, I tried Tri Dim Shanghai at 1378 Third Avenue between East 78th and 79th Streets for their lunch specials (See review on TripAdvisor). There lunch specials are wonderful and very reasonable as well. I had their specialty, Slippery Chicken which is prepared with thinly sliced chicken cooked with ginger, hot pepper and garlic in a brown sauce with spinach. The dish was rich with flavor and the spinach really brought out the flavor of the meat. Their hot & sour soup was really good and make sure to order a side of their Steamed Pork Xiao Long Bao (soup dumplings $8.00). They are the best!

As you can see there is a lot to see and do in this part of the Upper East Side and it will take you several days to explore the area thoroughly. You can’t do this neighborhood in just a day but pick out the blocks you want to visit and check out all the sites mentioned in the blog. You are going to be glad you took the time out to research first.

 

Places to Eat:

Flip and Forty Carrots Restaurants at Bloomingdale’s Department Store

Bloomingdale’s

100 3rd Avenue

New York, NY  10023

(212) 705-2993

My review on TripAdvisor:

Flip:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d3293428-Reviews-Flip-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d3293428-Reviews-Flip-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

40 Carrots:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d1995735-Reviews-40_Carrots-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

 

Asian 59 Inc.

207 East 59th Street

New York, NY  10022

(212) 371-4777/1201/8651

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d3899941-Reviews-Asian_Eatery-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

 

Corrado Bread & Pastry

960 Lexington Avenue @70th Street

New York, NY  10022

(212) 774-1904

http://www.corradocafeat70th.com

Open: Monday-Friday-7:00am-8:00pm/Saturday- 8:00am-7:00pm/Sunday-8:00am-6:00pm

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d1557807-Reviews-Corrado_Bread_Pastry-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

My review on DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/diningonashoestringinnyc.wordpress.com/711

 

John & Tony’s Pizzeria-Trattoria

1097 First Avenue

New York, NY  10065

(212) 371-4965

Email: johnandtonyspizza#gmail.com

Open: Monday-Thursday-10:00am-4:00pm/Friday-10:00am-5:00am/Saturday-11:00am-5:00am/Sunday-11:00am-2:00am

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d1082373-Reviews-John_Tony_s_Pizzeria-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

 

Ritz Diner

1133 First Avenue

New York, NY  10065

(212) 319-4993

Open 24 hours

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d424063-Reviews-Ritz_Diner-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

New Shanghai Restaurant

1388 Second Avenue

New York, NY  10021

(212) 288-8066

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

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d3579862-Reviews-Shanghai_Chinese_Restaurant-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

My review on DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/diningonashoestringinnyc.wordpress.com/706

 

Tri Dim Shanghai

1378 Third Avenue

New York, NY  10075

(212) 585-3388

http://www.tridimshanghai.net

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

My review on TripAdvisor:

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

 

La Crosta Restaurant & Pizza

436 East 72nd Street

New York, NY 10021

(212) 472-5004

http://www.lacrostapizza.com

Open: Sunday-Saturday-Sunday-11:00am-9:30pm

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d2285056-Reviews-La_Crosta_Restaurant_Gourmet_Pizzeria-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

My review on DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/diningonashoestringinnyc.wordpress.com/552

 

Non-Solo Piada

302 West 37th Street

New York, NY  10018

(212) 216-0616

http://www.nonsolopiadanyc.com

Open: Monday-Friday-7:00am -8:00pm/Saturday &- Sunday 8:00am-4:00pm

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d11916965-Reviews-Non_Solo_Piada-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

My review on DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/diningonashoestringinnyc.wordpress.com/668

 

Viv Thai

717 9th Avenue

New York, NY  10019

(212) 581-5999

Open: Sunday-Thursday-12:00pm-10:45pm/Saturday-12:00pm-11:45pm

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d3498676-Reviews-VIV_Thai-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

Shamas Deli

150 West 38th Street

New York, NY  10018

(212) 302-2296

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d14197183-Reviews-Shamas_Deli-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

 

Fu Xing

273 West 38th Street

New York, NY 10018

(212) 575-6978

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

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d14037661-Reviews-Fu_Xing-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

My review on DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/diningonashoestringinnyc.wordpress.com/149

 

Things to do:

Gracie Mansion Tour

Carl Schurz Park

88th Street & East End Avenue

New York, NY  10128

(212) 570-4773

Open: Monday’s Only-10:00am, 11:00am & 5:00pm

http://www.nyc.gov/gracietour.com

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g60763-d136688-Reviews-Gracie_Mansion-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

My review on VisitingaMuseum.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/visitingamuseum.com/2182

https://wordpress.com/post/visitingamuseum.com/2714

 

Berta and Karl Laubsdorf Gallery

Hunter College Main Campus

132 East 68th Street

New York, NY  10065

leubsdorfgallery.com

Open: Wednesday-Saturday

Admission: Free

My review on TripAdvisor:

None

My review on VisitingaMuseum:

https://wordpress.com/post/visitingamuseum.com/2139

 

Hewitt Gallery of Art

Marymount Manhattan College

221 East 71st Street

New York, NY 10021

Open: During special exhibition times

Admission: Free

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g60763-d106188-Reviews-Cooper_Hewitt_Smithsonian_Design_Museum-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

My review on VisitingaMuseum:

https://wordpress.com/post/visitingamuseum.com/2155

New York School of Interior Design Gallery

170 East 70th Street

New York, NY  10021

nysid.edu/icps

Open: When there is a show going on at the school

My review on TripAdvisor:

None

My review on VisitingaMuseum.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/visitingamuseum.com/2160

Mount Vernon Hotel Museum & Garden

421 East 61st Street

New York, NY  10065

(212)838-6878

http://www.myhm.org

Open:: Hours depending on time of the year

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g60763-d309468-Reviews-Mount_Vernon_Hotel_Museum_Garden-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

My review on VisitingaMuseum.com:

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

 

The Frick Collection

1 East 70th Street

New York, NY  10021

(212) 288-0700

http://www.frick.org

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

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g60763-d107466-Reviews-Frick_Collection-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

My review on VisitingaMuseum.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/visitingamuseum.com/2655

 

Asia Society

725 Park Avenue

New York, NY  10021

(212) 288-6400

http://www.asiasociety.org/museum

Open: Sunday-Saturday-11:00am-6:00pm

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g60763-d136164-Reviews-Asia_Society_and_Museum-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

My review on VisitingaMuseum.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/visitingamuseum.com/2110

Roosevelt House

47-49 East 65th Street

New York, NY  10065

(212) 650-3174

http://www.roosevelthouse.hunter.cuny.edu

Tours: On Saturday only 10:00am, 12:00pm and 2:00pm (Check their website for reservations)

 

24 Sycamores Park

501 East 60th Street

New York, NY  10065

(212) 639-9675

Open: 6:00am-9:00pm

https://www.nycgovparks.org/parks/twenty-four-sycamores-park/history

 

Andrew Haswell Green Park

East 60th Street & FDR Drive

New York, NY  10022

(212) 639-9675

http://www.nyc.parks.org

https://www.nycgovparks.org/parks/andrew-haswell-green-park

 

Stores:

Folly

157 East 71st Street

New York, NY  10021

(917) 751-7293

http://www.follynewyorkstore.com

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

Review on LittleShoponMainStreet@Wordpress.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/littleshoponmainstreet.wordpress.com/113

 

Cotelac

983 Lexington Avenue

New York, NY 10021

(212) 288-0400

http://www.cotelac.us

Open: Monday-Saturday-10:30am-6:30pm/Sunday-12:00pm-5:00p

My review on LittleShoponMainStreet@Wordpress.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/littleshoponmainstreet.wordpress.com/101

 

Places to stay:

Marriott Fairfield Inn

29-27 40th Street

Long Island City, NY 11101

(718) 482-0100

http://www.marriott.com

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Hotel_Review-g48080-d1027681-Reviews-Fairfield_Inn_New_York_Long_Island_City_Manhattan_View-Long_Island_City_Queens_New_York.html?m=19905

 

Met Lecture on California Contemporary Artists by Docent Judy Bloom discussed Ms. Segalove’s video, which is brilliant. I wanted to share this with the readers.

Video Artist Ilene Segalove’s Video: “What ever happened to my Future”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day One Hundred & Eighteen: Freaky Friday the 13th-The Sixth Anniversary of author Mary Rodgers visit for the 40th Anniversary of her book “Freaky Friday” July 13th, 2018

This blog is dedicated to the great and wonderful author, Mary Rodgers, in honor of her visit six years ago to the Hasbrouck Heights Library in honor of the 40th Anniversary of her best-selling book, “Freaky Friday” on July 13th, 2012. This was one of the best Special Events programs that I ever ran outside “Parent’s Weekend” my senior year at Michigan State University. It was a big thrill for me to meet an author whom not only I had grown up with but whose books and movies I enjoyed not just then but even now. The original ‘Freaky Friday’ I saw as a kid when it first came out in 1977 and I still enjoy it today.

I had founded the Junior Friends of the Hasbrouck Heights Library in 2011 on the premise that there should be more for kids to enjoy at the library other than “Mommie & Me” classes, teen book clubs and arts and crafts for kids. As a child I hated all that ‘baby stuff’ preferring ‘Nanny & the Professor’, ‘The Lucy Show’ and ‘That Girl’ over shows like ‘Sesame Street’ and ‘Mr. Rodgers Neighborhood’. I thought the shows were for ‘little kids’ as early as six. When it came time for movies, I enjoyed ‘On a Clear Day you can see Forever’ and ‘What’s Up Doc?’ to any of the kiddie fare they make kids watch at that age.

When Disney films like ‘Escape to Witch Mountain’, ‘Freaky Friday’ and ‘The Bad News Bears’ came out it really showed how kids behaved back then and the independence our parent’s generation gave us as children. They expected not ‘little adults’ but kids to be mature, have responsibility and respect for the people around them as well as be our own person. We were the generation to mature at our own pace and probably the last.

I wanted to share this experience with kids who were like minded, who wanted more than just the run of the mill activities. Plus I was patterning the organization on some of the groups catering to kids in the city at the Museum of Modern Art and the Film Forum, bringing the city to the kids of Hasbrouck Heights with sophisticated programming that including classic and independent films, celebrity visits and contemporary activities. The year 2012 was the leap year for the organization with goal of innovative programming and special guests.

I put my game plan of ideas together and came up with a “Freaky Friday” night at the library on Friday the 13th and because of the way Friday the 13th landed that year, July 13th that year was around the opening of the library’s Summer Reading Program. So the Junior Friends would tie their event around that. I never thought in a million years Mary Rodgers would come. I knew nothing about her whereabouts or her life. This is why I love Google.

One late night I was Googling her and did not realize that she had been the President of the Richard Rodgers Foundation and at the bottom of the screen there was a comments section. I went to it and wrote that the library was having a 40th Anniversary of her book, “Freaky Friday” and we wanted her to be our guest. Would she consider coming to the library to read the book? I could not believe it when she said yes the next day!

Thus started the plans for her visit. We bought copies of the novel, organized a small reception and had an area set up in the early afternoon for the reading. We would show the original 1977 film first in the private meeting room across the hall to be followed by the 2003 remake. We had planned something a little more elaborate but I could not get anyone to agree to it.

I had long emails for the next three weeks back and forth with her assistant, Ruschika, getting everything organized. It was like planning D-Day with all the conversations on a two hour visit. The way I was understanding it was that I was dealing with a very frail woman but when I met her she could have been nothing further from the truth. She was a spunky big kid who could not have been more engaging to both the adults and the kids. I knew that when I first introduced myself.

I kept saying Mrs. Rodgers this and Mrs. Rodgers that and she finally said to me “Justin, after all this just call me ‘Mary'”. I knew she was cool even at 83. She could not have been more engaging and openly friendly with everyone there and the kids loved her. Most of these kids were two generations ahead of her, she being the R.K. Rowling of her time. You could not have asked for a bigger author of kids books with comparison to Maurice Sendak, Norton Juster and Judy Bloom. For my generation, she was huge! (It would be years later that I would discover that she had been suffering from terminal cancer at the time of the visit and she died just a few months before my dad in 2014).

Freaky Friday 2012

Author Mary Rodgers reading her book “Freaky Friday”

It could not have been a better afternoon as the weather cooperated and because it was early traffic, she arrived over an hour early so she was able to settle in and talk with all the patrons on a personal basis. It really was a magical afternoon.

Mary talked to the audience of about 40 patrons about growing up as Richard Rodgers daughter and living in the shadow of fame while carving her own career out of it. She talked about growing up in a musical family, writing stories with her sister and time creating such shows as “Once Upon a Mattress” and “A to Z”. I even remembered when she worked on “Free to be you and Me” that Marlo Thomas had created in the 70’s for kids.

The best part of the program is when she talked about growing up and said, “Annebelle is me! I was a tough kid when I was growing up and had my own opinions.” She and her mother had obviously butted heads when she was growing up and based the book on her early childhood growing up in New York.

She then talked about working with Disney Studios to adapt the book into a movie and writing the screenplay. She told us of having to write a sexy secretary into the script to please one of the studio heads. She talked about the rewrites and finally how proud she was when the movie came out. She admitted though when asked whether she liked the original film or the 2003 remake, she admitted to us “I thought the remake was more true to the theme of the book.”

After a long discussion, we made our presentations to her. I made her the first ‘Honorary Member of the Junior Friends of the Hasbrouck Heights Library and the Mayor of Hasbrouck Heights at the time, Mrs. Rose Heck, read a proclamation declaring it ‘Mary Rodgers Day’ in Hasbrouck Heights. We even had the electric board out front of the Municipal Building read “Welcome Mary Rodgers”. We then had the book signing and she continued the discussion with many of the patrons and kids.

Mary Rodgers

Mayor Rose Heck presents Mary Rodgers with our version of the ‘Key’ to Hasbrouck Heights

After that she joined for a bit for the reception and then headed back into the City before rush hour began. We did keep in touch for bit writing to one another and me sending out press clippings and pictures from the event. (Years later after she passed away, Mayor Heck had told me she had just sent her a birthday card. Even the two of them had kept in touch long after the event).

After she left, we watched the original 1977 film with Jody Foster and Barbara Harris, then we stopped for intermission and had a pizza and brownie dinner and then showed the 2003 film with Lindsey Lohan and Jamie Lee-Curtis. The original film was a big hit with the kids many of whom had never seen it before. We ended up being at the library for over four hours and the last of the patrons walked out at 9:15pm with everyone raving about the event.

All these years later when older members of the organization get together, we still talk about the wonderful afternoon we had when Mary Rodgers visited us.

So on this Friday the 13th, six years to the date of the original event on July 13th, 2012, I dedicate this blog to a true New Yorker, Mary Rodgers-Guettel and the wonderful afternoon we had sharing stories, reading the book and watching her films. The kids may not known who she was when they came but they sure knew who she was when she left.

In Memory to the very first ‘Honorary Member of the Junior Friends of the Hasbrouck Heights Library and one of my literary idols, Mary Rodgers-Guettel January 1931-June 2014.

Special Note: I was very proud to discover in 2014 that BCCLS, the governing body  Bergen County Cooperative Library System for all libraries in Bergen County, New Jersey, honored the Junior Friends of the Library for our 2013 programming and the organization itself. It was nice to see that someone noticed!

Some articles that were posted online of the event:

Patch.com October 2012:

https://patch.com/new-jersey/hasbrouckheights/mary-rodgers-visits-heights

https://patch.com/new-jersey/hasbrouckheights/freaky-friday-author-mary-rodgers-to-visit-heights

Proclamation from the Borough of Hasbrouck Heights, NJ:

http://www.hasbrouck-heights.com/mc-min/2012/7-24-12.pdf

The Gazette Newspaper:

http://www.the-gazette-newspaper.com/images/gazette/jul12.pdf

Day One Hundred & Fifteen: Visiting the Brooklyn Botanical Garden on Rose Night June 14th, 2018

Every year the Brooklyn Botanical Garden opens its doors to the membership for the Annual Rose Night in June. This is when the roses are at their peak of bloom and members and their friends and family come to enjoy a private evening.

I have to admit that the weather has played a big role in the way flowers have bloomed this year. Plants have either opened too early or too late. The crocuses opened about three weeks too early and they sat in snow. The tulips opened on time and then were hit with three days of 80 degree weather, which just burnt them out. The daffodils had a good but quick season due to the hot and cold weather. Daffodil Hill and the dogwood trees in the garden were spectacular. What vibrant colors and what a beautiful display that night.

Rose Night was tough. Normally it is a week earlier as most roses come out on the first week of June but for some reason they moved it to the second week and a lot of the roses had already lost their petals. The weather had been a big factor as it rained so much in late May and early June.

Still many of the roses were still coming out and the gardens were awash in colors. So many types of roses were blooming that they almost time themselves. The gardens were full of colors of red, pink, yellow and even green. The overhead trellises were lined in whites, yellows and pinks. Some had aromatic smells while other smelled line a plain flower.

It was nice to walk along the paths and spot the names of the roses. Everything is marked so you get to see when the flowers were grafted and developed. Things are timed so intricately in the garden so they all bloom in certain intervals. Some of the beds were beyond peak while others were just bursting out after a long winter’s nap. You will walk in amazement down the paths to see so much.

Brooklyn Botanical Garden Rose Night.jpg

Rose Garden at the Brooklyn Botanical Garden

It was a beautiful sunny Spring evening and the garden was packed with families picnicking on the lawns all over the gardens, having dinner at the Magnolia Cafe near the middle of the gardens where a special menu was laid out. Others like myself were listening to music in the area by the gift shop or ordering Rose Sangria from the bar which was made with infused rose petals (and is delicious).

The musicians were playing show tunes and the gardens hired a wonderful singer for the night. She was doing all the old Cole Porter songs while I was listening to her and the band. It was nice to just relax with a drink and listen to the band with the other members. Some take it really seriously and dress to the hilt in blazers and hats. I sometimes feel a little under-dressed for the occasion.

I took a long walk around the gardens. A lot is being renovated with the new watershed system that the gardens are setting up which will be opened later this Summer. All the daffodils, dogwoods and tulips are long gone making way for summer flowers to enter the beds. There will be a lot more to see later in the season.

There will be other members nights of picnicking on the lawns and movies to see and walking tours to show it all off.

This is the reason why being a member of the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens is so important if you live in the New York area. There are loads of wonderful events to get involved with on a monthly basis.

Places to visit:

The Brooklyn Botanical Garden

990 Washington Avenue

Brooklyn, NY 11225

(718) 623-7200

http://www.bbg.org

Open: Mondays: (Closed)/Tuesday-Friday: 8:00am-6:00pm/Saturday & Sunday: 10:00am-6:00pm

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g60827-d103900-Reviews-Brooklyn_Botanic_Garden-Brooklyn_New_York.html?m=19905

 

Day Fifty-Two: A Visit to Washington DC in search of Alan Garfinckel-The Release of “Love Triangles” August 19th, 2016

 

I am getting ready to release the second book of my trilogy, “Love Triangles” (“Firehouse 101” was released ten years ago and will be celebrating its 10th Anniversary on September 25th). Since a section of the book takes place in Washington DC and I had to run an errand in the nation’s capital, I decided to get some research in as well since I wanted to update that section of the book.

To put it bluntly, DC has changed tremendously since I started writing the book in 1989. When I first started to write “Love Triangles”, Washington DC was falling apart. I had just graduated from college and had visited DC several times since the eighth grade and decided to set the book at Garfinckel’s Department Store when I visited it in the summer my father took my brother and I down to DC for a business trip. Those were the days when you could let a 13 and 11 year old roam the city by themselves. We were staying at a hotel close to F Street and my dad trusted us while he was working.

I knew at a young age what I wanted to do when I grew up and since I has just been in Washington DC with my eighth grade class a few months before, my brother and I roamed downtown DC and spent the day roaming the department stores on F Street. This was the heyday before the shopping district went downhill. We roamed around the Willard Hotel, Hecht & Company, Woodward & Lothrop and finally spent the afternoon at Garfinckel’s shopping for gifts for our parents before hitting the Smithsonian .

I remember buying my father a bottle of ‘Grey Flannel’ for a thank you gift and getting my mother a decorative candle because we could not afford the silver salad server by a dollar when we were at Garfinckel’s. Looking back on customer service, it must have been unusual to see two teenage kids shopping by themselves in DC but the woman never blinked an eye and as friendly and professional as I remember her being, she wouldn’t give us a break on the salad server. So we settled on the candle. I still remember having a snack in the Greenbrier Room, the restaurant in the store and my dad had that bottle of ‘Grey Flannel’ until I moved back in with him in 2001 from Guam. I believe that I was the one that finished it up. It is funny how one afternoon can inspire a book considering the store closed over twenty five  years ago.

Once I finished some work I had to do in the city, I took a special trip and walked all over the downtown area that had inspired the book so long ago. The buildings for the most part are still there. Hecht & Company converted to Macy’s years ago and they had closed the old store on F Street back in the 90’s, Woodies closed in the 90’s too when merged with John Wanamaker from Philly and both stores which needed massive renovations fell under the weight of a bad economy and Garfinckel’s closed when it was spun off to Hooker Real Estate Company and all the stores owned by Hooker that included Altman’s and Bonwit Teller closed for lack of business. The early 90’s were dark days in retail as many old-line and carriage trade department stores that had survived the Depression and years of consolidations finally closed their doors for good. The closing of Garfinckel’s came about the same time I started to write “Love Triangles”.

To keep the updates on the book fresh, I walked down to F Street to see the old buildings. Hecht & Company was now another retailer but the building is still beautiful and a testament to when shopping wasn’t a chore but a leisure activity. Woodies still keeps its name plates and pictures of the old store in its heyday in the lobby which is still polished oak and marble. Occasionally an old timer like myself will walk the lobby and still look at the old pictures and have good memories of a store long forgotten by a newer generation of shoppers. My next part of the F Street tour was the old Garfinckel’s building which is now been renovated, reopened and renamed the Hamilton Square Building housing what was once Clyde’s of Tyson’s Corner and now the Hamilton Grill. You can still see the Julius Garfinckel nameplate above the doors of the building hidden behind the awning. That is all that is left of the store that I bought those gifts so many years ago. It’s still an elegant building.

After the department store tour, I made my way across the street to the Willard Hotel, still considered one of the Grand Dames of the city which has been now overshadowed by Four Seasons and Ritz-Carlton Hotels plus a slew of others that have opened in the last thirty years. It’s still a beautiful old hotel but it could really use a spruce up when you look closely at it. The one nice added feature was the outdoor café that they put in the back of the hotel facing the Mall. That was packed to the gills with tourists looking for some shade.

I walked around the Mall and towards the White House on Pennsylvania Avenue and the security was out in full force. I have never seen so many policemen and security before but since people have jumped the fence and landed in the yard lately, it is better that way. The tourists acted like tourists in front of the building but I always felt that I was being watched.

I walked back around the downtown and walked down to Chinatown, which at this point has been reduced to one block and about a dozen restaurants in which some are still living on their reputations from years ago. I went to Chinatown Express (746 6th Street SW), a noodle and dumpling house that I had eaten at back in 2010 with my dad when we took a trip to DC to see the White House Christmas tree. Back then, the restaurant was introducing fresh dumplings and noodles made in front of you which not many places were doing in New York City yet. How New York has caught up and done better. The food went downhill in six years (See review on TripAdvisor).

The soup dumplings were dried out, the shrimp dumplings were under cooked and over pan-fried and the noodles were good but not great. The service was lackluster. Ever since they built the Verizon Center, they pretty much destroyed what was left of Chinatown. It is now down to about a block and most of the restaurants look like tired old relics of bygone era. The area has gentrified itself out of character.

I was able to walk back down E Street towards Ford Theater. The modern section of the building really showcases the times but the old building is a step back in time. The scary part is when you walk across the street to the doctor’s house where they took the body after the shooting. They still have the blood soaked pillow in the display case. The exhibition is a real eye opener and this should not be missed. It is one of the tours that is a must do when in DC (See review on TripAdvisor).

My last part of the tour was a walk around the Mall and a tour of the Natural History Museum off Constitutional Avenue NW. This is one of the museums I still remember from my eighth grade trip to DC. I still have a fascination with the Hope Diamond and it is something to see it. The whole Gem exhibition should not be missed as some of the most famous gems are located here as well as the stones in their raw state. The animal exhibitions are good but do not have the same effect as in the Museum of Natural History in New York.

By the end of the day, the humidity was a killer. I was exhausted from all the walking and the heat was no help. I walked back to Union Station and cooled down. They have fully renovated the station and it is much more than just a train station. It is a destination of shopping and restaurants and has the most impressive lobby to walk around. The station is the true hub of the city with both the trains and subways to take you to all parts of the city. Make sure to visit the McDonalds in the station. The service is excellent and for a McDonalds the food is really good (See review on TripAdvisor).

I don’t care what people say about travelling by train, it is the best way to go. If I drove this trip, it would have taken me four hours and we got down to DC in two and a half hours by Acela and it is the best way to travel. It is so relaxing and peaceful in the Quiet Car. You just relax and watch the cities and towns pass you by. Even Trenton looks pretty good from the train.

Be on the look out for the release of “Love Triangles” as an Ebook as well as read my first book, “Firehouse 101”, the first book in the trilogy. You will see how they tie in a moment in time and show New York City in a unique light. Enjoy the reading and take a train ride down to DC. With so many things to see and places to visit, it is well worth the trip.

Day Fifty-One: August 8,10 & 11, 2016: Walking in Harlem on the East & West Side 155th Street to 145th Street

I finally finished my two Brooklyn tours through school and was back up in Harlem today. It was a long day of walking as those city blocks across are long. I started at the subway stop at 168th Street and walked down to 155th Street (the subway was not running to 155th Street over the weekend). As usual when I have to walk down Broadway, I stopped at my new favorite bakery, Estrella Bakery at 3861 Broadway (check out the numerous reviews on TripAdvisor) for chicken pastilitos and cubanitos.

If you like hot snacks and sweet desserts, this will be your ‘go to’ place for a quick snack when walking up here. It is still one of the reasons why I don’t complain about getting off at 168th Street when the C subway is not in service. I like to stop at one of the pocket parks on Broadway to relax and eat. It was a long afternoon of walking.

Estrella Bakery.jpg

Don’t miss this excellent Dominican Bakery on Broadway

My walk over these three days took me from 155th Street to 145th Street from Riverside Drive to Lenox Avenue (there are still some side streets on the other side of Jackie Robinson Park that I have not finished yet). Don’t let these maps fool you, these are long blocks being walked in humid weather.

I started my walk today at the Hispanic Society of America Museum at 155th Street which is on the Boricua College-Manhattan Campus. It shares the campus with the American Academy of Arts & Letters, which closed down in June for the rest of the summer. The Hispanic Society of America is a free museum that is small enough that you can enjoy the visit for about an hour without being over-whelmed like you would at one of the bigger museums.

Hispanic Society of America.png

The Hispanic Society of America

It was a small but no less impressive collection of Spanish Art from different periods. The Hispanic Society of America was founded as a free museum and research library in 1904 by the American scholar and philanthropist Archer Milton Huntington (1870-1955). Over the past century, the Hispanic Society had promoted the study of the rich artistic and cultural traditions of Spain and Portugal and their areas of influence in the Americas and throughout the world. The Museum and Library constitute the most extensive collection of Hispanic are and literature outside Spain and Latin America (Hispanic Society of America literature).

The museum  had a nice crowd that afternoon, (how these people found it I will never know. I never knew it existed) and the galleries were small but the work was impressive. Some of the pieces that stood out were Jouquin Sorallo y Bastida’s ‘Vision of Spain’ created between 1911-1919, with many traditional views of parts of Spain and ‘After the Bath’ done in 1908, which looked more like a contemporary beach scene. The one piece that stuck in my mind was a new piece to the collection, ‘The Four Fates of the Soul’, which showed Death, Heaven, Purgatory and Hell. The sculpture really proved it’s point and made me think that we really are being watched from above. Even the guard as I was leaving said it was a new piece to the collection but people really talked about it as they were leaving.

After the museum, I had about ten minutes to walk  around Trinity Cemetery, which is  a quiet but scenic place. The graves on this side of Broadway overlook the Hudson River and are so peaceful with beautiful views, it makes you think of where you want your final resting place to be located. To live eternity here says something. Even the views of New Jersey  are gorgeous. Be sure to get to the museum and the gravesite early as they do close at 4:00pm.

I began my zig-zag trip of this part of Harlem at 154 Street and from there until 145th Street, the areas between Riverside Drive and Edgecombe Avenue house some of the most beautiful and elegant brownstones that I have seen in the city. So many of the them are under scaffolding as the new population moving up here is putting a lot of money into the renovations of these properties. The results are amazing with wooden doors, elegant metal work cleaned up and lively planters all around the stairs and the windows.

Sugar Hill I.jpg

Sugar Hill Neighborhood

With the CUNY campus just south of this area, you can see that college population is spreading its wings all over the neighborhood as the students, even in the summer, are moving in or living in this neighborhood and invest in buying in the bodegas, restaurants and hanging around the parks. The more diverse population looks like it is really making an effort to work together for this neighborhood. The most beautiful of these blocks is concentrated between Amsterdam Avenue and Nicholas Street so take time to really look at these homes and see the love and care that is put into them.

Jackie Robinson Park I

Jackie Robinson Park where the students hang out.

Another stop I made was in the Hope Garden at 153rd Street that runs through 152nd Street. This was an empty lot between all the buildings that has now been cleaned up and the neighborhood held their Annual Open House & Barbecue for the neighborhood. It was not much of a turnout at that point of the afternoon but all the neighborhood seniors looked at me like ‘oh oh, another one is moving in’. You begin to pick up on these things when you walk through neighborhoods that have not seen me before.

Hope Steven Garden II.jpg

Hope Steven Garden

Everyone was really nice though and some of the ladies were explaining how the neighborhood banded together to clean and landscape the garden. The garden now contains peach trees, berry bushes and a grape arbor while supporting a cat colony that lives in the garden. Some of the neighbors were grilling hamburgers and hot dogs and older residents were chatting amongst themselves. No one made a fuss about me eating and since I was not hungry, I did not partake in the barbecue but it looked pretty good.

Most of the residents sat around and chatted with their neighbors or busy working in the garden. As I sat down to rest, two of the women who volunteer here, looked like they wanted to recruit me to do the same as they told me the story of how the city’s water aqueduct runs underneath the garden so they can never build here and how bad the neighborhood had become and how it was coming back to life. It takes a big person to show the immense pride in a neighborhood.

I stopped back in Convent Garden again to visit Ms. Davis, who was chatting the afternoon away while getting her exercise working in their garden. She was telling me that they will be having a jazz concert with food on Labor Day Weekend and invited me to join in. This I don’t want to miss as it is my two favorite things, jazz music and food. The volunteers were really working away at making this garden the well maintained and colorful place that the garden is to the neighborhood. Everything is in full bloom right now.

Convent Garden Manhattan.jpg

Convent Garden in full bloom

The Sugar Hill neighborhood is really impressive and you could see that this was not one of the places that went downhill as the rest of Harlem decayed in the 60’s, 70’s and early 80’s. It was and still is an grand group of homes that their owners take a lot of pride in. Now that the rest of the city has caught up with it, it will be interesting to see what comes out of it the next few years.

Another small oasis exists on 149th Street, which is Maggie’s Garden. It was locked at the time but also another garden taken from an empty lot and brought back to life. Maggie Burnett, are Harlem resident, turned what was once a ‘rickety old house’ when torn down into an urban oasis starting in 1974. Fighting off drug dealers to build the garden, she got some help from New York Restoration Project and its founder, Bette Midler who assisted in 1999 helping clear the site and now it is a garden with trees, flowers, a full vegetable garden and a barbecue. You could not see all that from the locked gates. (Daily News article).

Maggie's Garden.jpg

Maggie’s Garden

I was able to start my walk on the other side of Bradhurst Avenue on the other side of Jackie Robinson Park. I will let you know that the college students from CUNY have discovered the park and were sunning themselves the afternoon I walked around the park. Bradhurst Avenue has a lot of new buildings on it and the businesses include a Starbucks so you know that neighborhood is going through a transition. To let you know though, this transition stops here and the further you get away from the park, the seedier the area gets. By the time you hit Lenox Avenue, gentrification has not hit this area of the neighborhood and you should watch yourself. The buildings are beautiful and there is a police station a block in but it still needs a lot of work on this side of West 145th Street.

The end of the walk that day was at 145th Street and lunch at Harlem Brothers Pizza & Wings at 346 West 145th Street which is right next store to Victorio’s Pizza that is more of the rave. The pizza was just average and the sauce did not have much flavor to it. The funny part was to listen to Indian music while eating my pizza.  That was strange. My recommendation is go to Victorio’s Pizza and get it to go and eat it in Jackie Robinson Park. The middle of the park has benches to sit on and the park is really pretty with its slopping walkways and rock work and it’s large trees to sit under.

The entire walk between 155th Street and 145th Street with an extra afternoon walking down Convent Avenue took almost five hours. Again, don’t let these blocks fool you as they are long and you will want to stop in the  parks and gardens and walk around.

Places to Visit:

Jackie Robinson Park

Bradhurst to Edgecombe Avenues at 145th Street to Manhattan Avenue

https://www.nycgovparks.org/parks/jackie-robinson-park_manhattan

Convent Garden

Convent Avenue & St. Nichols Avenue

https://www.nycgovparks.org/parks/convent-garden/highlights/7737

Maggie’s Garden

564 West 169th Street

https://www.nyrp.org/green-spaces/garden-details/maggies-garden

Hope Steven Garden

505 West 142nd Street

https://www.manhattanlandtrust.org/contact-us/hope-steven-garden/

Sugar Hill Neighborhood

Between 135th Street to 162nd Street and Edgecombe Avenue and Amsterdam Avenue

http://www.sugarhillmap.com/about.asp

Hispanic Society of America

163 West 155th Street

New York, NY 10032

(212) 926-2234

https://hispanicsociety.org/museum/

Open: The museum is currently closed for renovations. Please check the website for the opening.

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g60763-d110237-Reviews-Hispanic_Society_of_America-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

My review on VisitingaMuseum.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/visitingamuseum.com/160

 

Places to Eat:

Victorio’s Pizza

346 West 145th Street

New York, NY 10039

(212) 283-2100

Open: Sunday 11:00am-9:00pm/Monday-Saturday 11:00am-8:45pm

https://www.victoriospizzaplusmenu.com/

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d10539122-Reviews-Victorio_s_Pizza_Plus-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

Estrella Bakery

3861 Broadway

New York, NY 10032

(212) 795-5000

Open: Sunday-Saturday 5:00am-9:00pm

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d4416394-Reviews-5_Estrella_Bakery-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

My review on DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/diningonashoestringinnyc.wordpress.com/407

Harlem Brothers Pizza & Wings

346 West 145th Street

New York, NY  10039

(646) 455-0942

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d10715273-Reviews-Harlem_Brothers_Pizza_Wings-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905