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Day One Hundred & Twenty Five: Walking the Streets of the lower part of the Upper West Side West 72nd Street to West 59th Street October 15th-December 3rd, 2018

It took a long time to finish the Upper West Side with classes and work going on and the beginning of the holiday season. I started walking the streets between West 59th Street in early October when the weather was still warm and the trees were still green then somehow along the way the leaves turned a golden brown and I started to see cobwebs and pumpkins all over the place. By the time I was finished, these would be replaced by garland, holly, wreathes and pine trees. I had never seen a neighborhood transform so fast or was it just me revisiting so many times over the period of three months. The holidays just creeped up on me and then overwhelmed me.

The lower part of the Upper West Side is much different from the rest of this side of town. As noted in earlier blogs of the neighborhood, pretty much everything below West 69th Street was leveled to make way for the Lincoln Center complex and only buildings around Central Park West, historic churches and some pre-war ‘gems’ survived the wrecking ball. Everything east of Broadway seemed to survive the wrecking ball but that has continued to change.

This ‘clearance’ made way for the performing arts center, many branches of college campuses, a hospital, new residential housing and new schools. There are very few traces of the old neighborhood once you cross West 70th Street until you get to about West 58th Street where some of the older buildings survived. If it did not have historic value or a certain charm, it got knocked down in the way of progress.

The charm of the neighborhood continued from West 72nd Street to West 70th Street. These was the edges of the old Upper West Side that had survived the 60’s wrecking ball.  West 72nd Street to me still represents the old New York with stores catering to the neighborhood residents and not to tourists. They are stores and restaurants for New Yorkers not New York places for tourists looking for a New York experience like walking around Times Square.

I started walking the streets of the Upper West Side from West 72nd Street to West 59th Street in early October and finishing a section here and a section there finishing closer to Thanksgiving. It was so weird to start this part of the walk when the trees still had green leaves on them to seeing Christmas decorations on the brownstone homes. Between work and the beginnings of the holidays and my hectic schedule it took a long time to see all the streets in the detail I wanted.

In the few months that I had been walking around, West 72nd Street has really started to change. I starting seeing a lot more scaffolding on the street and more restaurants opening and closing. I could not keep up the pace of the changes. Many older businesses started to close up shop due to the rent increases. All over the City rents that must have been negotiated in the mid to late 90’s were now coming due and business owners just can’t pay some of these rents. I am seeing more and more empty store fronts or restaurants replacing them with $20.00 hamburgers and $25.00 pasta dishes which are over-priced to the average person.

West 72nd Street is still worth the visit as they are many shops and restaurants that reasonably priced and are patronized by the neighborhood residents. There are many places that I like to revisit whenever I am in the neighborhood. As you round the corner onto West 72nd Street from Central Park West, you are greeted by the anchor of the neighborhood, the Dakota Apartments at 1 West 72nd Street, the famous home of John Lennon. During my time on the walk, there had been a memorial in the park on the date of his passing and many people were trying to take pictures there but the doorman are shooing people away. This is the private home to many people.

Walking down West 72nd is an array of well maintained apartment buildings and Coops but here and there on the street, there are still some pockets where you will find a brownstone here or there tucked into some corner of the street or look at the stone work on a apartment building.

Walking down West 72nd Street is a treasure trove of wonderful restaurants, interesting shops and historical architecture. It’s not just the Dakota and Olcott Apartments that are interesting. When looking up you notice so much. As you walk past the famous apartment buildings of Central Park West past Columbus Avenue, you pass an avenue of ever changing bars, restaurants and shops that continue to surprise residents and tourists alike.

One restaurant/bar I enjoy visiting is Malachy’s Donegal Inn at 103 West 72nd Street (See my reviews on TripAdvisor and Diningonashoestringinnyc@wordpress.com) just past Columbus Avenue. The bar has been there for years and a neighborhood staple for locals in the neighborhood. I had eaten here many times and I always felt like I was being watched, like people at the bar were trying to figure out whether I lived there or not. The food is really good. Their burgers, chicken fingers and hot turkey sandwiches ($8.95 each) are generous in size and their prices for food and drinks is very reasonable.It is a great place to sit back and talk to strangers about just about anything.

Malachy's.jpg

Just past Malachy’s is an unassuming store, Stationary & Toy World at 125 West 72nd Street (See my blog ‘LittleShoponMainStreet@wordpress.com) for a great selection of office supplies and toys for all ages.

stationary and toy world.jpg

Stationary & Toy World

The aisles are stacked top to bottom with popular games, crafts and building blocks while others with hard to find office supplies. Why order on Amazon when you can walk out your door and talk to people in the store who know their merchandise? It’s a throwback to a store in the 70’s that had it all. The people who work there are really nice and will help you find anything.

Verdi Square, part of the once infamous ‘Needle Park’ of the 70’s when this area got very run down has become a cornerstone of the this part of the neighborhood. There is no ‘Needle Park’ here anymore with fancy coffee vendors and musicians playing the park on a warm day. The park has been landscaped with flowers blooming each season and is a nice place to just relax and talk before taking the busy subway up or downtown.

What the neighborhood used to look like in the early 70’s

Just to tell you how much the neighborhood has changed there is a very popular Bloomingdale’s Outlet Store at 2085 Broadway with loads of merchandise from the popular chain and a 40 Carrots yogurt shop upstairs. You can get lost in the racks of clothing.

Just past Bloomingdale’s at 233 West 72nd Street is Westsider Records, another 70’s looking store for vinyl records and used books. If you are looking for the hard to find classics or for book or record that your mother threw out years ago, this is the store to start in. There is a wide variety of records here including original cast albums from musicals that I have not seen in years.

As you head down West 72nd Street, take a stop before arriving at West End Avenue and admire what is left of the old mansions that still peak out here and there on the street especially towards the very bottom of Riverside Park, when the neighborhood was an exclusive address. At the end of the block is Riverside Drive and the bottom of Riverside Park.

Across the street under all that scaffolding is The Chadsworth Apartment House that was designed in the late 1800’s (See Day One Hundred & Eight of MywalkinManhattan for full history of the apartment houses on West 72nd Street). Under all that piping if you look close, you can see the beauty and the detail work of the stone carvers. It will be something when the renovation is finished.

The Chadworth

The beauty of The Chadsworth with the lower part of Riverside Park

Before crossing back, take a look at the Eleanor Roosevelt Monument at the corner of Riverside Drive and West 72nd Street. The statue is dedicated to the former First Lady and is a nice place to sit and relax on a warm day. I have seen this part of the park in all seasons since starting to walk this part of the neighborhood and the Spring is best when the first set of flowers starts to peek out.

Walking back down West 72nd Street on the other side of the road is West Side Cafe at 218 West 72nd Street, my go to place in the neighborhood for reasonable meals and snacks (See my TripAdvisor reviews and review on DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com). How I found this restaurant/deli was the sign that they had on the street with the prices of their meals and went in immediately for their pizza lunch special ($5.00). The pizza there is amazing as is all of their food and seems to be the place all the cabbies and doormen eat at as well. Large portions of well made food at a reasonable price.

If you are still hungry from all the walking, another place I like to stop for a snack is Gray’s Papaya at 2090 Broadway right across from the subway station. Their hot dogs are the best and since they are grilled, they snap when you bit into them (See review on TripAdvisor and DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com).

The one thing I like about West 72nd Street on the West Side is that there is something for everyone from the fancy dining establishments heading toward Central Park West to the more reasonable hole in the wall restaurants that dot the street and those hidden stores stacked high with merchandise, this street was created for the New York customer and has not given into the tourists yet.

Rounding the corner of Central Park West, this trip around the neighborhood took so much time that I saw the four seasons occur in the park. Fall is most distinct with the colorful leaves with a touch of still warm weather. Morning or night, the park is always busy.

West 71st Street has a more residential feel to it and between the park and Broadway is lined with impressive brownstones and apartment buildings. Facing Central Park is the Majestic Apartments, which opened right before the stock market crash of 1929. The apartment building is an interesting example of Modern American Art Deco architecture and was considered quite innovative when it opened. The building was built by the firm of Chanin Construction Company by Irwin Chanin (StreetEasy 2019).

Take time to look at the buildings design from the other side of Central Park West. Its elegant design is in contrast to the more Victorian look of the Dakota right across the street. Just don’t stare too long or the building doormen will give you a funny look.

dakota.jpg

The Dakota Apartments

The beautiful row of brownstones and small apartment buildings on West 71st Street were decorated at all times of the holiday season. When I started the walk in early October with the leaves still green on the trees, people were preparing for the Halloween and the coming of the Fall. As I finished the walk, many people were putting up trees, garland and lights. With the care of these brownstones and their decorations, especially at night, made it look like a true neighborhood.

Further down West 71st Street is the Church of the Blessed Sacrament at 152 West 71st Street which was built in 1917. The first church was built in 1887 near West 72nd Street and the second church was built in 1900 on the site of the current church. This church was built by architect Gustav Steinbach, a Columbia graduate, who modeled it after a much smaller 14th century French Gothic Sainte Chapelle in Parish (Church History).

The church has a very engaging sermon and mass and if you are in the area during that time, take the time out to stay and enjoy it. It was a small crowd that afternoon that I was there but I only stayed for a short period of time. It would be nice to hear the whole mass sometime.

Once you reach Sherman Square, you will see the artist Kathy Ruttenberg’s statue, ‘In Sync’ which is part of her open air exhibition with the NYC Arts, ‘In Dreams Awake: Kathy Ruttenberg on Broadway exhibition (one of her other statues, ‘All the World’s a Stage’ is located in the neighborhood on West 64th near Lincoln Center). Take time to look at this interesting twist of nature by the Woodstock, NY based artist. She has four other statues up and down Broadway which means revisited the Upper West Side above West 84th Street.

In Sync

‘In Sync’ By Kathy Ruttenberg

kathy ruttenberg II

“All the World’s a Stage” by Kathy Ruttenberg

I have to say one thing is that she is very creative and looks at nature and art in an extremely unusual fashion. Her work takes on a different meaning showing nature in human form. The funny part is that the whole time I was looking over the statue everyone else just bumped into me passing it. No one stopped to look at the deer-man and tree walking in tandem like it was something you saw every day in New York City.

Two of my favorite and reasonable places to eat in this part of the Upper West Side are located right across the street on Broadway. The McDonald’s at 2049 Broadway and Little Italy Pizza at 2047 Broadway (see reviews on TripAdvisor and DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@wordpress.com).

The McDonald’s is one of the better ones in the City for food quality and cleanliness. I have many lunches and dinners here and it is fun to order a Sausage McMuffin and Egg and a cheeseburger at 9:00pm. When the weather was really hot at the beginning walk of this neighborhood I came here for one of their frozen lemonades.

Little Italy Pizza is one of the best places for slices in the City as their pizza actually has some flavor to it. When you have a slice ($2.95) here it is a decent sized piece of pizza and the sauce is nicely spiced. Their calzones are excellent ($6.50). They are almost the size of a small pizza and are loaded with ricotta and mozzarella cheese. Their marinara sauce is delicious and well spiced. If you have one for lunch, you will need no dinner. The service here is quick and the pizza makers are in a rush all the time so take your order and wait to be called.

As you continue down West 71st Street towards West End Avenue, there is a little slice of oasis in Septuagesimo Uno Park between Broadway and West End Avenue. The park was created in 1969 as part of Mayor Wagner’s ‘Vest Park Program’ to take vacant lots in neighborhoods at the time and turn them into a ‘small oasis’ for the neighborhood. The park was part of an effort between the Mayor, the NYC Parks and neighborhood groups who wanted to beautify the neighborhood. It is beautifully landscaped and in season you can see the flowers and scrubs in  full bloom. The only problem that I found with visiting the park is that the gate is always locked. Every time I wanted to visit, there was no one there.

As you walk to the end of the block, you will see the transition in the street from where it used to stop at the back of the Chadsworth Apartments and the new Heritage at Trump Place Apartment Building. This leads back to the extension of West 72nd Street and the new Riverside Boulevard. This is where you see old and new mix in both architecture and parks. When you reach Riverside Boulevard you will see all the new buildings that I described when walking the Avenues. It shows the ingenuity of the city planners of reclaiming land and redesigning the City into the 21st Century.

As you head back down West 71st Street, really look up and admire some of the architecture and details on the buildings along the street. Once you pass West End Avenue, look at the details of 260-266 West 71st Street with their large staircases and the elegance of the clean lines on these brownstones. These brownstones were built in 1899 and were to have a look ‘different from one another’ (NY Times Real Estate). 269 West 71st Street

269 West 71st Street

Lots of care has been taken to restore them to their glory and when the weather was warmer, were decorated outside with potted plants.

Move on to the brownstones from 248-250 West 71st Street that are across the street to see their details. These were build in 1892 and look up to see the weird faces staring back at you. Further down the street, sitting like a Grand Dame of the neighborhood and not part of the Moses chopping block is The Dorilton Apartments at 171 West 71st Street that were built in 1902. These were built at a time architects were trying to lure people off Fifth Avenue and onto Broadway which was modeled after a French Boulevard.

Dorlitan Apartment

The Dorilton Apartments

Heading back to Central Park West is the brownstones of 35-39 West 71st Street with their elegant staircases, curved windows and their lion keystones staring back at you. These brownstones were built in 1900 and show a grace and elegance  of ‘Old New York’.

35 West 71st Street

35-39 West 71st Street

I found West 71st Street  offers a lot in beautiful small parks, gorgeous architecture, wonderful restaurants and interesting shops. The people here must really love it.

I rounded Central Park West again looking at the Central Park as it transitioned seasons during the walk and walked onto West 70th Street.  This is where the neighborhood starts to change. Up to Columbus Avenue, you see the older part of the neighborhood that survived the wrecking ball and past Broadway is all new construction.

I traveled down West 70th Street to Riverside Boulevard and it is amazing how in just one block a neighborhood can change. You see how ‘urban renewal’ can change the character of a neighborhood.

Still there is a beauty to many buildings on the block. It may not have all the charismatic brownstones as West 71st Street but still here and there are buildings that stand out and you take notice of when walking around. At 135 West 70th Street there is a building that has an Egyptian style motif that decorates the entire frontage.

The Pythian was designed by architect Thomas Lamb and was built in 1926 for the Knights of the Pythians, who were a fraternal order founded in 1864. The building was constructed of buff brick and terra cotta. The outside decorations of the building are designed in ‘Egyptian Revival Art Deco’ and are some of the best examples of the use of polycrome terra cotta in the City. The building was converted to condos in 1983. Really look up and admire the details of ancient Gods and Goddesses, mythical animals and artwork that looks like the outside of an ancient temple. Admire the orb that sits atop the entrance with the Goddess Isis stand guard (StreetScapes & Wiki).

The Pythian

The Pythian at 135 West 70th Street

I stopped by P.S. 199 as they were letting out of school and it was sea of children and parents for the next hour. Next to the school is Matthew P. Sapolin Park, which is a great place to visit on a hot day. There are really nice public bathrooms that come in handy after a long walk and benches under shade trees to relax on. The parents are so busy watching their kids and the other parents no one noticed me walk in the many times I visited here. This was my go to place for the bathroom and to relax when walking this section of the neighborhood and they keep the park up really nicely.

The former Playground 70 was renamed in 2011 to Matthew P. Sapolin Park after the former Commission of the Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities, who died of cancer in 2011. The park is fitted for children with disabilities with a children’s garden, a basketball court with backstops for children in wheel chairs and picnic table seating low enough to allow for disability access (NYCParks.com).

Matthew P. Sapolin has a very interesting life before dying at age 41. He had been mainstreamed in school on Long Island, was a drummer in a band he formed and the Co-Captain of his wrestling team at NYU. Many people had commented that he was an inspiration for many people who never let a disability define them and it is fitting that such a park available to so many be named after him (NY Obituary).

Walking back from a relaxing break at the park, I walked back to towards Central Park West. Tucked away near Columbus Avenue is an interesting little antique jewelry store called Icon Style by Lara Kornbluh at 104 West 70th Street (See review on LittleShoponMainStreet@Wordpress.com). Do not miss this interesting little shop refitted in a turn of the last century pharmacy, if you like vintage and antique fine and costume jewelry.

It has some of the most unusual pieces in the shapes of animals and sunburst. I got to meet the owner, artist Lara Kornbluh, whose work had been shown in galleries in the 90’s. She had gotten interested in jewelry as a side business while working as an artist to make extra money. Her creativity as an artist shows in the one of kind selections she has bought for the store. No two pieces look alike. For jewelry lovers, it should not be missed.

Icon Style by Lara Kornbluh

Icon by Lara Kronbluh

After a long day in Soup Kitchen and walking all of West 72nd to West 70th Streets and rounding onto West 69th Street, I had had it. I wanted to relax and decided to end this part of the evening at the New York Historical Society at 170 Central Park West. I had not visited the museum in a long time and wanted to look around some of the exhibitions. What is nice about the museum is that on a Friday night it is ‘pay what you want’ and since I was broke, I just paid $5.00.

It was an busy evening for the museum with the ‘Harry Potter’ exhibition going on. I bypassed that and went upstairs to see the ‘Billy Jean King’ exhibition on her career as a tennis player, philanthropist and activist. I also got to see the permanent collection of objects in the collection. What was nice about that was I had the galleries pretty much to myself. I stayed until the museum closed at 8:00pm. I stopped for a quick snack on Broadway and then headed home. There would be more to see for another day.

My next trip to the neighborhood started at the Soup Kitchen again. Why I exhaust myself and walk the rest of the afternoon amazes even me. I have no idea where I get my energy from. I worked the busy bread station and after my four hour shift was over, I walked from 28th and Ninth Avenue to Harriet’s Kitchen (see review on TripAdvisor) at 502 Amsterdam Avenue, a small southern hole in the wall restaurant for lunch.

I had visited Harriet’s before and wanted to try more entrees on their menu.  I had a chicken pot pie with mashed potatoes for lunch ($12.95 plus $4.95 for the potatoes and gravy) which was the perfect lunch on a cool day and the calories would support an afternoon of walking around the neighborhood. Don’t miss this rich gravy loaded pie loaded with fresh white chicken.

After a full lunch, I walked down Central Park West tracing the park side. I really looked at the park as the joggers and walkers entered and wondered when I missed the leaves changing colors. It was the middle of October and the pumpkin decorations and mums started to appear on steps and porches of the brownstone blocks of the Upper West Side.

As I walked onto West 69th Street, I was greeted by a juxtaposed of brownstone and small apartment  house styles between Central Park West and Columbus Avenue. The shopping area around Columbus Avenue has not changed much over the years but the stores are constantly in transition. In the three months that I visited and walked the neighborhood I had never seen so many restaurants change hands and even watched a few open and close while I was there. The rents must be skyrocketing in the neighborhood as the twenty and ten year leases that were negotiated after the last recession have given way to market rates. Again, I don’t think the Upper West Side needs another restaurant that serves a $20.00 hamburger.

One of the most beautiful and quintessential blocks of the neighborhood is West 69th Street from Columbus to Amsterdam Avenues. This row of brownstones on both sides is met in the middle by Christ & St. Stephens Church at 120 West 69th Street. This cute little church has a garden just a few steps up from the side walk with benches to relax on. When I was visited earlier in the month, I just saw the last of the flowers in bloom and the leaves change colors. The brownstones across the street were decorated with colorful pumpkins and potted plants and the whole effect was out of a movie. It is what you would think all of New York City should look like or probably did at one time.

129-135 W69th

129-135 West 69th Street

Take time to admire the brownstones from at 129-135 West 69th Street with the unique carvings, beautiful details and their curving stairs. Decorated for both Halloween and Christmas when I walked the neighborhood, this is truly picturesque.

Once you cross Broadway, you see where the changes of the 60’s come in and the neighborhood has given way to modern construction. Between Amsterdam and Broadway you will begin to see the final buildings as part of the Lincoln Center complex of buildings of schools, theaters and offices which leads to the modern apartment complex of Lincoln Towers that continues from West 69th Street to West 66th Street. They are not so keen about letting people walk around the grounds so I snuck in carefully and did not walk around where I wasn’t supposed.

Along West End Avenue to Freedom Place is the same. Lincoln Towers, a modern apartment complex stretches from West 70th Street to West 66th and there are guards all over the place at each entrance to the complex. It is mostly paths leading the the apartments. Between Freedom Place and Riverside Boulevard are all the sparkling new apartment buildings that line the extension of Riverside Park. This new modern look to the city stretches on the West Side from West 70th Street to West 59th where some new buildings are behind fencing waiting to appear this Summer.

Riverside Park South

The is the Riverside Park skyline

So to complete this part of the walk and it was such a nice day when I did it, I made a right turn up Amsterdam Avenue from West 69th Street and walked up to West 70th Street and walked the entire length around the Lincoln Towers Complex to West 66th Street and then back to see some of the garden and paths of the complex that I could see with the guards looking me over and then back around.

When I finished that, I made the turn once I returned to West 66th Street and West End Avenue and walked to Riverside Boulevard and re-walked all the side streets between West 66th to West 70th Streets between the park and Freedom Place and looked at all the new construction again. This part of the neighborhood is dissected from the rest of the Upper West Side and is almost its own self-contained neighborhood similar to Battery Park City. It has its own shops, stores and schools. It faces a beautiful sparkling new park where the sod had just been laid that Summer and it was in full use when I was there (See Days One Hundred and Twenty One and Two).

I crossed back over the street at West 70th and continued to walk down past this extensive neighborhood and in the corner of Freedom Place and West 70th Street saw the Freedom Place marker from the Freedom Summer of June 21, 1964 when volunteers went to Mississippi to register Black voters. The plaque was dedicated to the three volunteers who were killed, Andrew Goodman, Michael Schwerner and James Chaney. They had been ambushed and killed that evening. A very somber plaque for such an interesting block of luxury housing.

I made the turn again and back down the other side of West 69th I went. Once you past Broadway, you pass from new to old again and it is the other side of the brownstone row until you get to Central Park West. When you turn the corner again at West 68th Street, you are pretty much looking at what is left of the old Upper West Side between Central Park West and Columbus Avenue. After that the rest of the neighborhood is new construction especially around the boundaries of Broadway which is loaded with chain businesses.

West 67th Street is almost the same as the area contains many new buildings between Central Park West and Columbus Avenue. Here you start to see more of the buildings that are part of Lincoln Center just to the south or are part of the commercial district that has developed over the last twenty five years. When you turn the corner again from Central Park West to West 66th Street, you see the neighborhood streetscape change again with differences in the buildings from Central Park to Riverside Park.

West 66th Street takes you right back over to Riverside Park and then back to Central Park as I stopped in the park to relax. It has a wonderful view of New Jersey of the cliffs facing the Hudson River. On a warm Summer day you have a choice of things to do in the park, admiring the artwork, walking, jogging or just lying by the grass.

A tiny triangle of grass greets you right across the street from Lincoln Center in the former Empire North Park now dubbed “Richard Tucker Park”.  This little park like its counterpart Verdi Square further uptown not only serves as a subway entrance but in the warmer months has a very popular Farmers Market, waffle stand and bookseller. Its a pleasant park to sit in the Summer and watch the world go by.

Richard Tucker had started off as a Cantor who in 1945 made his operatic debut with the Metropolitan Opera, where he stayed on with the company until his passing in 1975. The bust of him by artist Milton Hebald that graces the park was donated to the park system by his wife, Sarah, in 1975.

West 65th Street brings you to the heart of Lincoln Center. This is also where the neighborhood has its extremes. On one side of Amsterdam Avenue is Lincoln Center and on the other is the Amsterdam Houses. Still the neighborhood houses some of the best schools in the country. Julliard is housed between Broadway and Amsterdam Avenue as well as the Fiorella H. La Guardia School of the Performing Arts, two of the nation’s finest performing arts schools in the US.

Making the rounds back to Central Park and back in to the heart of the neighborhood, you will walk through Lincoln Center with all it’s beauty and glory. It really is a stellar site with its fountains and walkways and art. In the evening after a performance, I have always enjoyed just sitting by the fountain in the middle of the theaters and just watched people walk by either afternoons or evenings. It brings back many memories of performances past.

The Lincoln Center complex stretches from West 65th to West 62nd Streets from Columbus to Amsterdam Avenue so it takes some time to walk the whole complex and admire the gardens and statuary.

I had an interesting walk behind Lincoln Center once I crossed Amsterdam Avenue into the Amsterdam Houses, which are currently under scaffolding and being renovated. The Amsterdam Houses stretch from West 64th to West 61st from Amsterdam to West End Avenues. It is an interesting set of paths to walk through all the scaffolding. With my progressive glasses and dark jacket,  I made most of the construction guys and residents a little nervous. I had a glass thrown from a third floor window at me, security guards look the other direction when I walked by and watched a few construction guys get nervous. It just seems out of the place with the rest of the neighborhood.

One bright spot of the complex is the Samuel N. Bennerson 2nd Playground located toward the back of the complex which has recently been renovated. It has new swings and a plastic climbing complex. The few afternoons that I entered the park, the kids seemed well-behaved  but there were a lot of adults there talking.

Samuel N. Bennerson 2nd was a local resident and activist, who was a third generation member of the ‘San Juan Hill’ community who served as a mentor to children in the neighborhood and a sports coach.

I continued by walk down West 64th Street and walk all around the Amsterdam Housing Complex which made me very popular with the construction crew who seemed to step of the pace everytime they saw me walking through taking notes. I walked down and around West 61st Street and covered all the area from West 59th Street to West 64th Street from Riverside Boulevard to Amsterdam Avenue. Amsterdam Houses are really an island on to themselves with the Lincoln Center complex to the east and the luxury apartments by Riverside Park South to the west.

As you head around West 59th and 60th Streets past Amsterdam Avenue you will see the John Jay College and Fordham College campuses just south of Lincoln Center. These and Mt. Sinai Hospital pretty dominate the very bottom of the Upper West Side.

There are two stand out buildings that you should not miss admiring on West 59th Street, the IRT Powerhouse between West End Avenue and the Henry Hudson Parkway and West 59th and 58th Streets. This historic building was built in 1904 by architect Stanford White for the Interborough Rapid Transit Company and is designed in ‘Renaissance Revival’ and was part of the City Beautiful Movement (Wiki). Note all the beautiful carvings and decor at the sides of the building.

irt building

IRT Building on West 59th Street

The other building not to miss is the Williams J. Syms Operating Theater at 338 West 59th Street right behind the Time-Warner Complex. It was built in 1892 as a medical hospital and is the last remaining piece of the old Roosevelt Hospital. Made with marble and mosaic floors as not to harbor bacteria, it was considered state of the art when it opened. It is now being renovated for a school.

William Syms Theater

William J. Syms Medical Theater

From West 59th Street, I walked around the back of the Columbus Circle complex and walked up Columbus Avenue back to West 64th Street and continued the walk back to Central Park West. Here you see the sparkling new Time-Warner complex with its luxury stores, hotels and restaurants. This has set the tone for the transformation of the Upper West Side.

Making the walk back onto West 63rd Street, I walked again through the Lincoln Center Complex again and then through the Amsterdam Houses again just to rile the builders who by this point just ignored me.  Towards the end of the block between West 63rd and 64th Streets and West End Avenue and Freedom Place there is another really nice park to relax in that does not have a formal name by the Parks system. It has a nice playground in the front and paths with benches to the back which is the perfect place to relax on a hot day. This park is always busy with kids.

Walking back to the commercial district of Columbus Avenue and right across from Lincoln Center is Dante Park, which in the summer is busy with vendors and book sellers and at the holidays has the most beautiful Christmas tree with an even nicer holiday event. Dante Park was originally part of Empire Park to the north but was renamed in 1921 for the Italian poet Dante Alighieri. There is a statue of him facing the park by artist Ettore Ximemes (Wiki).

Dante Park Christmas tree

Dante Park at Christmas

When walking back to West 63rd to Central Park and then back to Columbus Avenue the areas between West 62nd, 61st and 60th Streets are lined with commercial buildings, hotels and apartment buildings. The Empire Hotel which faces Dante Park and is always busy on theater night in its restaurants was built in 1923 by owner Herbert DePuy.

The last part of my walk that evening was exploring the artwork at Lincoln Center. As I looked over the signs for upcoming shows and watched the holiday decorations being placed on the inside of the opera house, I admired pieces of art tucked here and there in the complex. There was artist Henry Moore’s ‘Working Model for Reclining Figure’ in one part and Alexander Caulder’s “Le Guichet” that stand out. In all my times at the theater, I never noticed these two pieces of outdoor art. Taking time to walk around and needing to sit down you do notice them.

Henry Moore Art

Henry Moore’s “Working Model for Reclining Figure” at Lincoln Center

Henry Moore was a English artist who had graduated from the Royal College of Art in London and Leeds School of Art. He was known for his semi-abstract figures and his work in bronze. This work, “Working for Reclining Figure” was installed in 1965 and has been thought to be human figure in a reclining state.  One piece represents that head and the torso and the other the figures legs. You really have to walk around the piece to figure it out (Wiki).

Le Guichet II

 

Alexander Calder’s “Le Guichet”

Alexander Calder is an American artist who graduated from the Stephens Institute of Technology. He was known for his abstract mobiles with some known of the themes of the cosmos and nature (Wiki). The work, “Le Guichet” (the ticket window) was installed in Lincoln Center in 1963. Some say it represents a irregularly shaped hand reaching through a window.

My last night walking the streets of the Upper West Side was also the beginning of the holiday season. It had been a long day at the Soup Kitchen working the Social Services area and I just wanted to get out of there.

I walked back up Columbus Avenue to look at the store windows and took a short cut through West 69th Street between Columbus and Broadway again to look at all the lights along the brownstones again. People really decorated their homes with lights, garlands and trees. At nightfall, this is what New York is all about. The simple decorations that make the City so special.

I ended my evening with dinner at the West Side Cafe again at 218 West 72nd Street. I just needed a couple of slices of pizza and remembered how much I enjoyed it. I am beginning to feel like a regular here.

So here on the Upper West Side is a wonderful mixture of architecture, unusual art by interesting artists, great hole in the wall restaurants and a great mix of retail. Here and there a real ‘gem’ pops out but at the end of the day it is a great neighborhood to take a long walk in.

Merry Christmas everyone!

 

Places to Visit:

The Dakota Apartments

1 West 72nd Street

New York, NY  10023

Church of the Blessed Sacrament

152 West 71st Street

New York, NY 10023

Places to Eat:

Malachy’s Donegal Inn

103 West 72nd Street

New York, NY  10023

(212) 874-4268

TripAdvisor Review:

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

DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@worpress.com:

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

McDonald’s

2049 Broadway

New York, NY  10023

(212) 724-0435

Open: 24 hours

http://www.mcdonalds.com

Review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d5101346-Reviews-McDonald_s-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

Review Diningonashoestringinnyc@wordpress.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/diningonashoestringinnyc.wordpress.com/541

Little Italy Pizza

2047 Broadway

New York, NY 10023

http://www.lipizzany.com/

Review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d3609300-Reviews-Little_Italy_Pizza-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com review:

https://wordpress.com/post/diningonashoestringinnyc.wordpress.com/898

Gray’s Papaya

2090 Broadway

New York, NY  10023

(212) 799-0243

https://grayspapayanyc.com/

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d423624-Reviews-Gray_s_Papaya-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

My review on DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com

https://wordpress.com/post/diningonashoestringinnyc.wordpress.com/603

West Side Cafe

218 West 72nd Street

New York, NY  10023

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d4959470-Reviews-West_Side_Cafe-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

My review on DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/diningonashoestringinnyc.wordpress.com/599

Harriet’s Kitchen

502 Amsterdam Avenue

(212) 721-0045

http://www.harrietskitchen.com

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d4657943-Reviews-Harriet_s_Kitchen-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

Places to Shop:

Bloomingdale’s Outlet Store

2085 Broadway

New York, NY 10023

(212) 634-3190

http://www.bloomingdales.com

Stationary & Toy World

125 West 72nd Street

(212) 580-3922

http://stationeryandtoy.com/shop/

My review on LittleShoponMainStreet@Wordpress.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/littleshoponmainstreet.wordpress.com/200

Westsider Records

233 West 72nd Street

New York, NY  10023

(212) 874-1588

http://westsiderbooks.com/recordstore.html

Open: Sunday 12:00pm-6:00pm/Monday-Thursday 11:00am-7:00pm/Friday & Saturday 11:00am-9:00pm.

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Day One Hundred and Thirty One: Meeting Staten Island Chuck at the Staten Island Zoo on Groundhog’s Day, February 2, 2019

I had planned to go out to Punxsutawney, PA again for Groundhog’s Day but the weather really turned this year. There was an Arctic Vortex (or whatever they are calling it this week) and the weather plunged in Pennsylvania. It was going to be 20 degrees on Groundhog’s Day (that meant 0 degrees that night) and raining when I would drive home on Sunday and I thought that would be over doing it for me.

I later saw that it did go up to 38 degrees that day in Punxsutawney, higher than expected but the overnight Friday night into Saturday was 4 degrees and sorry but the thought of standing in Gobbler’s Knob for five and a half hours in that weather was too much. I did that in 2016 in 30 degrees and that was bad enough. I will wait until next year.

I then remembered that we have our own Groundhog Festival here in the New York City area at the Staten Island Zoo with ‘Groundhog Chuck’, an event I had heard of in the past. So when I knew that driving to PA was out (I was assisting with the Hasbrouck Heights Fire Department at the Marcel Paper Factory fire on Wednesday night January 30th, 2019-See The Brothers of Engine One Blog site on WordPress.com that I write), I went online and looked at the festival that they had at the Staten Island Zoo.

So on a cold morning, I got up at 3:30am in the morning to get ready to go to Staten Island. It was not too much better on an early Saturday morning here as well. It was 19 degrees (versus 4 in PA) in Staten Island but off I drove into the darkness. The trip to the Staten Island Zoo was not that bad. I got to the zoo in forty minutes and there was plenty of parking. I guess not as many people had the same idea that I had. There were only about six other cars in the lot when I arrived.

A group of about ten of us were waiting outside the back gate when someone finally came to the gate and told us we were at the wrong gate. It would have been nice if some zoo personal was directing people to the parking lot (which was dark with not a lot of signage to see) and had a sign to go to the front gate.

When the ten of us got to the front gate we were lucky in that the TV crews had already set up and there were only about ten other people there at the time so we got great views of the stage.

Trust me this is WAY smaller than the festival in Punxsutawney, PA. There were about a hundred and fifty people there that I could see and that included the staff, the politicians, the choir from P.S. 29 and their parents and the crowd of us but that made it more intimate. You were not elbow to elbow with people and did not have to camp out for the night. The Staten Island Zoo did a nice job. I still think they should move it to a bigger area of the zoo so that the kids could see it. Also, it would have been nice to put the choir and the dancing Groundhog (a staff member dressed in a Groundhog costume) on the stage so that more people could have seen them.

The Zoo staff introduced some of the local politicians to the event. Some of them kept it short and sweet and a few others had to make it about themselves and bring up things in Washington DC, which I think at an event like this has no place for it. It is a family event.

Still one of the local politicians made a good MC for the event and then introduced a student from P.S. 29,  who played the “Star-Spangled Banner” for us on her violin and that was followed by the P.S. 29 choir, who sang a song about Groundhog’s Day. It was really cute and the kids did a nice job entertaining the crowd (See the video below).

 

The Groundhog Ceremony at the Staten Island Zoo 2019 (that’s me in the Spartan knit hat)

Then the band, “Rock a Silly” played their song for Staten Chuck and it was quite clever. (See the band’s video on YouTube below).

 

The Rock-A-Silly Band with their original song for “Staten Island Chuck” (I give the band full credit for this video-very clever guys!)

The band got the crowd really moving on this cold morning.

After all the entertainment, it was time to hear the report from Chuck and the handlers took him out. There was a little of a commotion and then the report came. In the middle of this ‘deep freeze vortex’ Chuck’s prediction was SPRING IS COMING! Everyone cheered loudly at that. With that, there was a little more entertainment, then I was off to tour the zoo.

Staten Island Chuck 2019 II

The Staten Island Zoo is very nice even in the cold weather. I was able to go into the main building and see the monkey, the reptile and the aquarium exhibits, which were nicely displayed and labeled so that you knew what animals were what. The only problem with the zoo is the space is very limited and surrounded by houses so there is no room to expand, so the living space for the animals is small. Still they look happy and content.

I stopped at the Zoo Cafe for a doughnut ($1.00) and to look at the gift shop. They had an interesting ‘Staten Island Chuck’ stuffed groundhog ($12.00) that I had to keep myself from buying. The zoo gift shop is stocked with all sorts of ‘Chuck’ coloring books, tee shirts and little do-dads as well as plush animals, pencils, shirts and hats.  The zoo cafe has the usual hamburgers, chicken fingers and fries on the menu that will appeal to any child.

I walked around the zoo as it started to warm up (now 25 degrees) and went to the outside pens to see the pigs, donkey’s, kangaroos, emus, geese and ducks. The poor emus looked so cold that they were chasing after me with a look in their eyes like either I had food or was going to take them inside. I really felt for the animals in this cold.

By the time I left the zoo, it was 9:45am and the zoo still had not opened. There was myself and two other families left in the early hours zoo and by the time I got back to the parking lot, there were only six cars left.

Even though it was not the crowds of the event in Punxsutawney, PA, it was still a cute event that you should not miss on future Groundhog’s Day when you are visiting New York City. The Staten Island Zoo puts on a good show!

Happy Groundhog’s Day!

 

Places to Visit:

The Staten Island Zoo

614 Broadway

Staten Island, NY  10310

(718) 442-3100

http://www.statenislandzoo.org/

Open: Sunday-Saturday 10:00am-4:45pm

Admission:  Adults (15 and over) $10.00/Seniors (60 and over) $7.00/Children (3-16) $6.00/Wednesdays after 2:00pm is free to everyone. Free with membership. Closed Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years Day.

The Cafe and the Gift shop are open when the zoo is open.

Places to eat:

Zoo Cafe (Inside the Zoo-hours are when the zoo is open)

McDonalds

803 Forest Avenue

Staten Island, NY  10310

(718) 876-6088

Open: 24 hours

Day One Hundred & Twenty Seven The creation of Bergecco-Parc Consulting Inc. and the project “Welcome Week 2019-Follow the Yellow Brick Road back to Bergen Community College” May 2018

I  put “MywalkinManhattan” on hold for work the Fall months. I taught Business Communications 105 again this semester at Bergen Community College in Paramus, NJ and this was the final presentation of the group project I had my students create. I have my Communication students do this to get them to actually talk to one another and get to know all the other students in class. This has become harder since the advent of cellphones and texting. The art of conversation seems to have gone out of vogue. I worry that they losing the act of getting to know other people and even having a ‘college experience’.

I established the company, “Bergecco-Parc Consultants Inc.” an acronym for Bergen Community College, Paramus Campus and established an Executive Team. From there, I put together a Talent/Security team, Marketing Team and a Special Events team each lead by a Vice-President and Directors and Team Leaders. Since all the departments had to talk to one another to do the project, I made sure that each team would need the other to create each section of the project.

The theme of the project was “Welcome Week 2019-Follow the Yellow Brick Road Back to Bergen Community College”. The premise was that MGM/Turner Classics had found the famous “Jitterbug” number from the 1939 film “The Wizard of Oz” and had restored it back in the film. Now the film was being shown at its ‘World Premiere” at Bergen Community College during Welcome Week (we were chosen over Rutgers and Princeton).

The college had then hired us as a consulting firm to come in and do a series of activities in honor of the event as well as promote the Bergen Room, the on-campus student run dining room, Gallery Bergen, our student run Art Gallery and the Ciccone Theater (see reviews on TripAdvisor), where student run plays were shown to the public by the campus Theater Department. The company was also to promote the Athletic Department with a Pep Rally and Bonfire.

This was an extensive project that required all the students to do research and ask questions all over campus. Many students would later comment in their papers that this was the first time they were exposed to what the Bergen Community College campus had to offer and had been to different parts of campus. They also discovered our Athletic programs and our cultural activities and realized that we were very similar to a major campus with a lot of the same things to get involved with as a student.

Bergecco-Parc Consulting Inc.

bergecco-parc logo

Bergecco-Parc Consulting Inc. Logo:

Six trees representing the six original creators of the company. The meaning: Trees continue to grow and make an impact on the nature of the world.

Bergecco-Parc Consulting Inc. was founded by six Rutgers students who had been a competing in a contest against other well-known marketing firms. over creating a Welcome Week concept for the Rutgers’s  New Brunswick campus. They won the contest and upon graduation, started a small company concentrating on helping colleges promote activities on their campuses.

When you have thirty two students (unlike my last semester when I had eighteen students creating Buscomonzefi.com) there is a lot to manage. This time I added a layer of management and a few extras to make sure that everyone worked.

Here’s our logo, “Follow the Yellow Brick Road back to Bergen Community College”

bcc bergecco parc welcome week logo

My Talent Team created the Human Resources department from scratch putting a budget together for the entire Paramus department as well as the executives who were part of the New Brunswick branch of the company. They research the benefits, perks of working there and some extras that Google and Facebook hadn’t even thought of like a Dog Walking service and an English as a Second language classes for our international employees. In real life, I don’t know how a small company could have paid for some of the things they suggested but I let them make that decision.

The Marketing Department was in charge of promoting The Bergen Room, the student run dining room, The Gallery Bergen, the student art gallery and The Ciccone Theater, where our theater department puts on shows.

Here is their commercial promoting the campus to incoming students in many languages that the student body of the class spoke. We had students speak twelve  languages and most participated in the commercial.

Welcome to Bergen Community College:

 

The next part of the project that were marketing was “Welcome Week 2019-Follow the Yellow Brick Road back to Bergen Community College” a Wizard of Oz themed event with the showing of the film, the play version of the ‘Wizard of Oz’ , a special theme dinner with a Wizard of Oz concept and a Pep Rally and Bonfire for our Athletic teams on campus. One of my students even wrote a new school song and another a fight song that were performed that night.

The commercial promoting the events:

 

One of my students was legally deaf and I wanted to make sure that every activity that we promoted was ADA compliant with the laws of New Jersey and the campus regulations. Here he created a commercial for the hearing impaired. I will tell you that as an educator I have never been prouder of a student and watched him shine as this one did for this part of the project.

Their commercial for the hearing impaired students:

 

The Special Event’s Team created the Pep-Rally and Bonfire, which was an interesting concept as the Director and his team created a program where the students athletes would burn the witch in effigy with our rivals name followed by a fire works display and snacks for the students.

Another team in the Special Events division created a theme dinner starting with a cocktail party in Gallery Bergen, with the show theme ‘Over the Rainbow Surrealism’ with surrealist art based on the movie by the art department students and clothing from the Retailing program.

Since we had so many students that spoke different languages, they created the menus in about seven different languages. The students also added trivia from the movie as well as fun facts about the actors. They even looked into food trucks for those who could not get into the Special dinner. The event would be finished off with the stage version of ‘The Wizard of Oz’.

This version was performed by the Ann Arbor Student Theater group and I give them full credit  for this performance:

 

Needless to say as a company, you always have those who chose not to take it seriously but those things were addressed. I had a student hierarchy that we followed and as the CEO and one of the Co-Founder’s  of the company, I made sure that we followed protocol by CCing everyone on emails and letting them fight their own battles. We did have some battles along the way right up to the night of the presentation.

The presentation was done not just in front of their classmates but the heads of the Theater, Alumni, Art Gallery, Special Services and Alumni Foundation. They all seemed blown away by a project that had a five week lead time. The comments I got from fellow professors and administrators was wonderful and the students seemed very proud. They all could not understood how I got them all to dress up with the ladies in skirts and dresses and pantsuits and the men in suits and jacket and tie. They looked really sharp as a class!

Even to keep the real life simulation project going, I even created a small reception for everyone by baking desserts and providing non-alcoholic beverages. A lot of the people that participated got a kick out of that. I even entered the project in the campus’s Innovation Award but it did not win ( I was bummed for all these students that worked so hard on it).

The funny part of being an educator is the reviews and reactions we get as professors. When I read some of the reviews, some of the students did not understand why we did such a project and what did dressing up for a project have anything to do with business communications?

I think the true reality everyone who is reading this  is that everything we do in the business world is communication. From the texts and emails we send, to the activities we plan for fellow employees, to the way we present ourselves to others by the way dress and speak and the way we stand. Everything in life we do conveys a message.

I know that most of the students learned something new and were excited about the project and coming to class. This is what getting an education is all about and I could not have been prouder of a class!

Check out their student blog!

Welcome Week

My reviews on TripAdvisor:

The Bergen Room:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g46712-d12308869-Reviews-The_Bergen_Room-Paramus_New_Jersey.html?m=19905

(check out my blog, Diningonashoestringinnyc@wordpress.com for a review)

https://diningonashoestringinnyc.wordpress.com/

The Ciccone Theater:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g46712-d15599602-Reviews-The_Ciccone_Theatre-Paramus_New_Jersey.html?m=19905

The Gallery Bergen:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g46712-d15515383-Reviews-Gallery_Bergen_West_Hall-Paramus_New_Jersey.html?m=19905

(Check out my blog, ‘VisitingaMuseum.com for a review)

Visiting a Museum is a blog site featuring unique, unusual and obscure small museums, historical sites & homes and community gardens and parks.

 

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

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

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

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 & Twenty-Six: Here come the Christmas Trees in Hasbrouck Heights (HHMA) November 24th, 2018

I have put “MywalkinManhattan” project on hold to get ready for the holidays again!

The holidays are always zipping by and Christmas is no different. We went right from Halloween night and the Halloween Parade to Christmas. The moment it was over, all the Christmas decorations went up. It seems that we no longer bother with worrying about Thanksgiving. I swear that Christmas starts with the July Christmas sale at all Hallmark stores and does not stop until Three Kings Day in January.

The Saturday after Thanksgiving for me means Christmas Tree delivery for the Hasbrouck Heights Men’s Association, which I have been a member of for nineteen years. I can’t believe that time has gone that fast. It seems like ten life times ago.

The organization has been building on the success of the sale over the past five years and this year we extended the amount of trees we bought to 340 over the 315 last year. I thought we ordered an even 350 but we must have readjusted it. Still that is the most amount of trees we have sold since I have been in the organization.

Last year we were sold out by the second week of December and had our annual party at the lot with three trees left. I had never seen so many trees sell out so fast. Our word of mouth has been very good. I have also tried to get the Upper West Side customer from Manhattan to cross the bridge to buy their trees here. I swear that I was pricing trees while I was finishing my walk of the Upper West Side for my ‘MywalkinManhattan’ project and trees that we were selling for $45-$55 vendors were selling for $100. It was just nuts.

We also bulked up on the fraizers this year. They are the pine trees that look the most typical ‘Christmasy’. They as of this weekend have almost all sold out. People tend to decorate early because of work schedules and I swear, we had not even emptied the truck on Saturday and we sold two trees. We sold eight by the end of my shift at 6:00pm that night.

For all of you readers and bloggers who need a Christmas tree, we are located on the corner of Franklin Avenue and Terrace Avenue in Hasbrouck Heights, NJ and our prices go from $45.00 for a small Frazier to $100.00 for a ten foot tall Balsam. We are open as long as the supply lasts.

Hurry up as I was on the lot last night and there were forty-one trees left! By the night of our annual tree stand party we sold out! 340 trees in less than three weeks! A new Men’s Association record!

Men's Association Dinner 2016

The Hasbrouck Heights Men’s Association in 2017

Watch my successful commercial for YouTube below and watch the trailers for my two favorite contemporary Christmas movies. They really show a different side of the holidays.

Hasbrouck Heights Men's Association Xmas Tree Sales

Me selling Christmas trees on the lot with member John Horem.

Merry Christmas!

 

My Christmas tree sales video on YouTube.

Update: All in all 339 trees were sold and one was stolen from the lot. We raised over $8000 for student scholarships and want to thank all of customers for their support!

 

My two new favorite contemporary Christmas movies, “Christmas Again” and “White Reindeer” sad but optimistic views on the holiday. Try to get your hands on these two great indie films.

‘Christmas Again’

 

‘White Reindeer’

Day One Hundred & Twenty One: Walking the Borders of the lower part of the Upper West Side, from West 72nd Street to West 59th Street from Central Park West to Riverside Boulevard/12th Avenue September 29, 2018

I finally was able to get back into New York City to resume my walk of the Upper West Side. It is amazing how fast the summer went. I haven’t been on this side of the island for months. Walking the lower part of the Upper East Side took many days and there was so much to return to in way of galleries, parks and restaurants that I had wanted to take my time. I hope to see the same on the lower part of the Upper West Side.

I really lucked out and it was a spectacular day, sunny and warm with blue skies. It had been a very difficult summer with the rain and the humidity and it was nice to see a pleasant fall day.

I started my day taking a seminar of the changes that will be going on with the editing system at WordPress.com (where this is printed through). It seems that they will be introducing a new editing system to our blogs that will help make them better and I look forward to improving my sites.

After class was over I visited the Museum at FIT (see reviews on TripAdvisor and VisitingaMuseum@Wordpress.com) which is located at the corner of Seventh Avenue at 27th Street on the main campus to see some of the new exhibitions. Don’t miss their “History of Pink” exhibition on the use of the color in fashion with some clothing items dating back to the 1700’s and their “Reconstruction” exhibition of the components of fashion.

From FIT, I took the number 1 subway up to West 79th Street to continue my walk of the lower part of the Upper West Side. My first stop in the neighborhood was to join other Alumni from Michigan State University at Blondie’s Sports Bar at 212 West 79th Street to watch the Michigan State versus Western Michigan football game (we won 31-20). Even though the score was not that high I have to admit our coach does have class and does not run up the score like other coaches do when playing a smaller school. Over a plate of chicken tenders ($8.99 for six), which were delicious (see review on TripAdvisor) I got to hear all the noisy Alumni in the back go nuts at every play. I had gotten there after half time so I had to sit through all the play by plays of the game.

After the game it was the late afternoon but sunny, gorgeous and warm, the perfect day for a walk around the City. My starting point was West 72nd Street and Central Park West  corner near The Dakota Apartments where tourists were all snapping pictures. They had just finished the outside renovation on the building and the apartment complex looks elegant and you can see all the architecture elements of the building shine. The iron work around the Dakota is interesting with all its twists and faces looking out at you.

I walked down West 72nd Street like I was visiting an old friend. I had not been on this side of the island since the beginning of the summer and there have been quite a few changes on the road. A few more of the businesses have closed and more of the buildings on the street are under scaffolding. So much is being renovated in the neighborhood.

As I rounded West 72nd Street onto Riverside Drive, I came across the very busy Little Engine Playground at West 67th and Riverside Drive. This whimsical playground is part of the NYC Parks Department and the main feature of the park that the small children enjoy the is the small train that they can climb inside and on top of in the middle of the park. This popular park is on the corner of West 67th Street and Riverside Boulevard and it one of the popular parks for kids in the Riverside Park Conservatory. The afternoon I was there the kids  running all over the park while the parents talked amongst themselves.

Riverside Drive and Riverside Park end at West 72nd Street but the park continues with the new Hudson River Park that currently lines the river below the Henry Hudson Parkway which itself ends at West 57th Street. This stretch of riverside is the newly landscaped park with benches, running and biking paths and a cafe, Cafe Pier One. The park is a new addition to the City that stretches down to Battery Park City.

It is a pleasure to walk along the newly reclaimed waterfront which I think was what Robert Moses wanted in the first place. This highway was needed at the time to open up the whole area to cars and now is being reclaimed as parkland. The park was conceived in the mid-90’s but construction started on parts of the park starting in the Bloomberg Administration in 2003 and still continues today to reclaim river side land and rotting piers for parkland and it the largest riverfront park in New York City and one of the largest in the country.

As I walked down Riverside Boulevard, you can see all the new sidewalks, plantings and small pocket parks that line the Boulevard from West 72nd Street to West 57th Street and the Boulevard is now lined across the street from the park with series of luxury office and apartment buildings. Everything is so new that you can see the deep green of the new sod in the park from parts of the Boulevard above.

To get a full view of the park, I walked along both the Boulevard and the inside the parks paths to see what the vision of the Hudson River Park Trust is trying to achieve. What the park does so well it that it combines the river with the park and it blends the natural beauty of both. It also protects the park goers with large boulders so that people don’t fall into the river from the side of the park. It’s a sloped effect where the river shines on a sunny day.

Both from the street and from the paths, you get beautiful views of the cliffs on the New Jersey side of the river but still engage it via the various piers that you can walk on that jut out into the river. When you reach West 59th Street, Pier 96 and the Hudson River Pier and the boat basin giver great views of the Hudson River.

I walked around the park and saw an unusual sculpture in the shape of a bottle. The public art piece ‘Private Passage’ by artist Malcolm Cochran is a unique sculpture in that what appears to be a ship in a bottle is actually a replica of a stateroom in the Queen Mary all done in metals.  At night and in bad weather I read that the piece is illuminated.

Malcolm Cochran is an American artist and former Art Professor at Ohio State University. A graduate of Wesleyan College, Mr. Cochran has had many solo and group shows since the 70’s and has created numerous works all over the world. ‘Private Passage’ was created for Hudson River Park in 2005 and is an engaging piece of art where the visitors have to look inside the port holes to see the art inside the bottle. It is very clever.

Another piece of art that stands out in the park is actually part of the original park when the train tracks dominated the area. At the West 63rd Street section of the park is a section of the New York Central Transfer Station elevated above the side of the park. This is all that is left of the celebrated rail line that had been built in the 1800’s. It sits majestically above the park on what is left of a rotting pier.

As part of the Hudson River Park is ‘Linda’s Lawn’, a piece of the newly landscaped park named after Linda Stone Davidoff, a champion of the City and one of the city planners and a member of the Parks Council who fought to have this 27 acre park as part of the West Side landscape (NYParks.org). Now this patch of green is enjoyed by all New Yorker’s due to efforts to protect the river front of over-development.

Linda's Lawn

As I walked the park up and down from West 72nd Street back to West 59th Street, I crossed the rather difficult street path  and walked down West 59th Street. Near the local school is Gertrude Ederle Playground which sits next to the Gertrude Ederle Recreation Center. This park stretches from West 59th to West 60th Street and is a very popular park with the areas families offering many whimsical playground jungle gyms and swings and a very nice field for soccer and baseball. It also offers a very nice public bathroom that is nice to have when walking around the area.

Gertrude Ederle was a champion Olympic and distance swimmer, who was a member of the 1924 Paris Olympic Games. She set over twenty world records in swimming in the early 1920’s and won a gold medal for the 400 meter freestyle relay. She swam the 22 mile harbor swim from Battery Park to Sandy Hook, NJ in a record that stood for 81 years. She also set the record for crossing the English Channel as the first American woman and received a ticker tape parade when she returned. She also appeared as herself in the 1927 romantic comedy ‘Swim, Girl Swim’. She continued to swim by teaching deaf children to swim (she had lost her hearing at this point) and lived to ripe age of 98 passing in 2003 (NYCParks.org).

Across the street from the park is the former IRT (Interborough Rapid Transit) Powerhouse. This ornate building was built in 1904 and takes up the entire area from West 59th to West 58th Street between 11th and 12th Avenues. Designed by architect Stamford White, the building is used by Con Ed of New York to supply the New York Steam system. It is designed in the ‘Renaissance Revival’ and really walk around the building you can see the beautiful details of the building especially around the building . It was recently declared a Landmark Building in New York (Wiki).

IRT Powerhouse II

IRT Powerhouse

I walked both sides of West 59th Street past John Jay College which stretches from 11th to 10th Avenue and then past a branch of Mt. Sinai Hospital which stretches from 10th to 9th Avenues. These buildings take up the entire city blocks between West 58th and 59th Streets and stop at the intersection of West 59th Street where Columbus Avenue turns in 9th Avenue. This leads to the back section of Columbus Circle and the new building that houses the headquarters of TimeWarner and the Mandarin Hotel. This complex stretches from 9th Avenue to Columbus Circle from West 58th to 60th Streets so there is a lot of crossing streets in this area that is loaded with tourists.

I stopped in Columbus Circle Park roundabout and sat watching skateboarders who took over the southern part of the park filming their antics of flying over benches. Tourists stopped here to take pictures and film movies of the guys skateboarding.

The Statue of Christopher Columbus has been part of a recent controversy that has since calmed down. There were some New Yorker’s that said that the statue should be taken down for the way Columbus exploited the Native Americans. Honestly, I don’t think they thought that way in 1492 and it shouldn’t be related to in 2018.

The statue was designed in 1892 as part of the 400 hundred anniversary of Columbus discovering America by Italian artist Gaetano Russo.  Russo was an artist from Messina, Sicily who studied at the Academia de Belle Arti in Rome. In the inscription it says “To the world he gave a world”. The statue and the circle had recently been renovated in 1992 for the 500th Anniversary of the crossing and again in 2005 adding the new fountains and benches which everyone relaxes on (Wiki).

Columbus Circle

Columbus Circle

The traffic circle had been part of the original plan by Frederick Olmstead design for the park in 1857 for a ‘Grand Circle at the Merchants Gate’ and the entrance to the park and 8th Avenue (NYCParks.org).

The roundabout is where traffic enters the Upper West Side from Midtown Manhattan and is the half way point of the island of Manhattan. I still can’t believe that I have gotten here.

From Columbus Circle, I doubled back around the TimeWarner Building and made my way back down West 60th Street crossing Columbus Avenue to West 59th with a second pit stop at the bathroom at Gertrude Ederle Park, which at this point was loaded with families climbing the jungle gyms and playing softball.

I made my way back up through Hudson River Park to enjoy the sunshine and walked from West 59th to 72nd Street passing familiar businesses that I had seen the last time I was in the neighborhood.

This took me to my last leg of rounding the neighborhood by crossing the West 72nd Street border to Central Park West and making my way down past the still green trees of Central Park. There was a free concert going on in the park at the time so there was security all over the place.

I walked past the many families walking around the park at twilight and thinking to myself how it had all changed in thirty years when you would not be caught dead in the park after sunset. Now there are free concerts and walking tours after dark.

I relaxed in Columbus Circle for the remainder of the evening and watched the skate boarders do their routine and this lady dressed as a ballet dancer or could have been a ballet dancer in a tutu with Christmas lights in her dress dancing around the circle. Half way through her routine she bumped into a guy walking around the park and then they danced together.

 

What was amusing was when the skate boarder collided into her as she danced and the two of them bumped one another. Both of their reactions were priceless but they both got a laugh out of it. Funny for a park that could have torn a city apart that people can still laugh at their differences and find a common ground. They both talked and she continued to do her ballet around the park and the group of skate boarders continued to do their flip routines on the benches.

That’s true New Yorker’s for you!

 

Places to Eat:

Blondie’s Sport Bar

212 West 97th Street

New York, NY 10024

(212) 362-3311

Open: Sunday-Tuesday-11:30am-12:00pm/Wednesday- until 1:00am, Tuesday-until 2:00am and Friday and Saturday-until 3:00am

 

Pier One Cafe

Hudson River Park

500 West 70th Street

New York, NY  10023

(212) 362-4450

http://www.pierone.com

Open: Sunday-Saturday-11:30am-10:30pm

 

Places to Visit:

The Museum at FIT

227 West 27th Street

New York, NY  10001

(212) 217-4558

http://www.fit/nyc/museum/

Open: Sunday-Friday-12:00pm-8:00pm/Saturday-10:00am-5:00pm

 

Little Engine Playground

Riverside Park at West 67th Street

 

Hudson River Park

From West 72nd Street to Battery Park City

 

Gertrude Ederle Playground

232 West 60th Street (through 59th Street)

 

Linda’s Lawn

Hudson River Park at 66th Street

 

 

 

Day One Hundred and Twenty: Visiting Cape May and the Chalfonte Hotel again for the NJ Firemen’s Convention September 6th, 13th-14th, 2018

After such a wonderful Christmas holiday in Cape May,  I decided to change my plans around and stay in Cape May this time for the Annual Firemen’s Convention which is in mid-September. This is the best time to visit the beach as most of the tourists are away, the kids are back in school and the water is still warm. Hurricane Florence was coming up the coast so it was not the greatest weather but I always find things to do.

While attending the convention, I was booked at the Chalfonte Hotel in Cape May, which is considering the Southern Grande Dame of hotels. I had stayed at the hotel’s Southern Quarters, the smaller B & B setting next door during Christmas and it had been a nice stay. The room had been decorated with holiday ornaments and decorations. I had a slept like ‘a log’ during the holidays. It had been so quiet at that time of the year.

When I had originally booked the reservation for the weekend, I was told that the restaurant, The Magnolia Room, would be open. Later I found out it would be closing for the end of the season on September 7th and I would not be able to try it for dinner when I was visiting Cape May. This meant a special trip ahead of time. So after work on September 6th on a whim I made a special trip to Cape May to check out the culinary delights of the Chalfonte Hotel.

I called the hotel at the last minute, booked a room with a shared bathroom ($100.00) and off I went down the Garden State Parkway from Bergen County to Cape May which is one side of the state to another. With one break stop, I was there in two hours and forty five minutes.

I got to the hotel by 4:30pm and it was still nice out. Hurricane Florence was just starting to make landfall in Florida and it was supposed to be gloomy all day long but we lucked out the tentacles of the storm had not hit New Jersey (that would come later the next day when I left) and it was still sunny, clear, warm and still a little humid.

I was  happy because I got my room immediately and was able to get to the beach for a swim before dinner. One thing about the Chalfonte Hotel (see review on TripAdvisor) is that it is old and I mean old. The rooms themselves have been updated and painted and the beds and furnishings are new and comfortable but the room I got with the shared bath could have used a scraping and repainting of the whole room.

chalfonte hotel

The window sill was beginning to rot and I could see in the ginger bread decoration on the roof was rotting as well. The hallway carpets were clean but could have used a good shampooing to bring out the color. Even though the hotel is clean and maintained, it still needs a good gut renovation to bring it up to current standards. It is nice it could be a showplace.

The beach is only three blocks away and since it was off season already and later in the afternoon, the beach was quiet. The water was perfectly warm and the waves were low and no current from the storm (we really lucked out with that) so swimming was nice. I could ride the waves with not much worries. Still I kept close to shore and did not venture out too far.

It was nice to just lie on the beach and just relax. I had not been to the beach all summer and it was nice to just put my feet in the ocean, hear the sound of the waves and just relax on a towel and get some sun. I had not done this in over a year. The salt air is so soothing. The nice part was the beach at this point was practically empty and was filled with mostly locals.

After the beach, I went back to take a shower and relax. I took a quick nap on the bed which I have to say are soft and firm at the same time and I completely relaxed. I didn’t even want to go down for dinner but there was a fried chicken dinner with my name on it downstairs.

The Magnolia Room (see review on TripAdvisor), the hotel’s main dining room, is off the main lobby and located towards the back of the hotel. You really do feel like you are in a Southern hotel in Charleston or Savannah with the long narrow dining room, the pink table clothes and the over-head chandeliers. It is like stepping into a Southern Plantation. It is elegant and homey at the same time.

Cape May like most shore towns in the Northeast have to depend on foreign help as the college students have to go back to school and there are only so many people living in town to fill the jobs. My server, Michaela, told me she was from Albania and could not have been friendlier. She was the one that told me that the Fried Chicken Dinner was the most popular. The nice part is that the three course meal is $39.00 which includes an appetizer or soup, the main entrée and a dish from the set menu. Another nice aspect of the dining room is that they give hotel guests a 15% discount for eating there and I thought that was very nice.

I traveled three hours to try the Fried Chicken so off the order went to the kitchen. I started with the Chicken Soup with Garden vegetables. Hunks of chicken in a fresh broth with a rough cut of fresh vegetables made the soup almost a complete meal. A good  appetizer to off set the Fried Chicken. The nice part was the vegetables were really fresh and it had a well rounded flavor to it.

The Fried Chicken was a bit of a disappointment. Even though it was a nice sized piece of chicken (almost half the bird) and the meat was juicy and moist and perfectly cooked, the coating had no flavor to it. It really needed some spices and I had to end up loading it with salt and pepper. Every bite was crispy and crunchy but not much flavor to it. The fresh Parker House rolls the same thing. They tasted good but were not moist (I found out later that they had been made in advance and had been defrosted).

For dessert, I had the Chocolate pie that was created by one of the owners of the hotel. It was pretty incredible with its dense filling and fresh whipped cream topping. I devoured that in a couple of bites.

The specialty cocktail was strong and on top of all the driving I did in the afternoon, it made me even more tired. Still I had enough energy to go to the Kings Bar, which is a small bar off the main lobby for an after dinner drink and listen to one of the local groups that play there.

The King Edward Bar is a small room that is off the wrap around porch and next to the history room that is part of the main lobby. There are about a half dozen tables around the small room which were always full and a small bar in the back. The service there is extremely friendly and the bartenders can mix a drink. Be prepared!

king edward bar cape may

King Edward Bar

It was nice to just sit back and drink a Cosmo and listen to the Jazz band. Every night during the season that have a different group there perform every night. It is nice because you don’t have to just sit in the bar. You can sit on the wrap around porch in one of the many rocking chairs, feel the breeze and listen to the music. I sat in one of the chairs and just relaxed. I started to fall asleep.

I went back to the room in the main building just for a quick rest and then I would go back to hear the music group. I fell asleep the second I hit the comfortable bed  and did not wake up until much later that evening and then went to bed. I had one of the best night’s sleep I had in a long time.

I woke up completely refreshed and ready to start the day. Since the hotel was not full, I had the shared bathroom all to myself with no one banging on the door. I took a quick shower, dressed and went downstairs to try the second part of the culinary trip, the Magnolia Room Breakfast Buffet.

Magnolia Room.jpg

Magnolia Room at the Chalfonte Hotel

Now I am big breakfast fan (as many of you must know from my dining blog, “DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com) and when there is a buffet I am in high heaven. The food at breakfast just had more zing to it then at dinner. I just could not put my finger on why. I found out when I met Tina Bowser, one of the Magnolia Room’s two well know cooks. Her mother was Dot Burton, one of the two main cooks at the hotel and as we talked we discovered that we lost our parents at the same time.

I never had such a heart to heart with a complete stranger and we both talked about our losses and how much we both missed our parents. Funny how you can bond with a complete stranger who was going through exactly what I was going through. It was interesting when Tina said that she still felt like her mother looked over her shoulder when she cooked and could still feel the nudge when she did something wrong.

After our long conversation, she mentioned that she now worked side by side with her Aunt Lucille Thompson, her mother’s sister who was just as well known. Now I had heard so much about her mother and aunt that I asked for a favor, I wanted to meet her Aunt Lucille. She said no problem and I was able to go back in the kitchen to introduce myself.

Lucille Thompson.jpg

Lucille Thompson at the Chalfonte Hotel

It is amazing to meet an 80 year old woman who still gets up every morning to cook for the hotel guests, make all the biscuits and rolls from scratch and prepare all the crab cakes, chicken coatings and then prepare breakfast. She was sitting down making her homemade rolls when I met here. It is always such a thrill when you meet a famous cook and Lucille and her family are so well known in the industry.

Lucille seemed thrilled when I made such a fuss. She told me of all her time at the hotel and the countless hours in the kitchen. I could tell there was pride in her voice on her cooking like it was her baby. She put a lot of effort into the food to make it special.

It was then she told me she had not been in the kitchen the night before and the she had made the dinner rolls in advance. That was the reason why there had been such a difference in flavor of the food. It’s not that it was not good it was but it just didn’t have that touch that was missing. There was such that sense that the person who gave it that extra care was not there to oversee it.

I complimented her on the soup and on the chocolate pie I had for dessert but she gave the credit to that to the owners wife, who made the delicious chocolate pie and the chicken vegetable soup. It was she though who made the Southern Breakfast I enjoyed so much. She seemed thrilled that I was so thrilled to finally meet her. I then left her alone to do her magic in the kitchen while I got back to the buffet.

Now this buffet is really nice. On the buffet we had fresh scrambled eggs, thick bacon, Amish sausage, fried hash brown potatoes, fried red tomatoes, spoon bread, fresh rolls and Danishes that were made by the kitchen as well as fresh fruits, juices and a complete waffle bar. This was all you could eat and they have never seen me at a breakfast buffet. Unlike other people who just fill up their plates and then to waste food, I circle the buffet, try a small portion of things and then go back for more so that I don’t waste.

My advice is that you have to go to the Chalfonte Hotel just for the breakfast buffet if not for anything else. Those fried red tomatoes are so sweet and crisp and I thoroughly enjoyed them. I had never eaten anything like this before. The home made rolls when they are still hot are addictive and the Danishes are delicious and burst with fruits and cinnamon. The sausage are those fat Amish sausage that crack when you bite into them and you can taste the freshly ground pork and sage. It was wonderful breakfast full of good food, great service and a beautiful room to eat in on a sunny morning.

By the time I finished it gave me a chance to get a quick walk into downtown Cape May, the Washington Mall, to look at the shops before I left. I needed to work off the breakfast. It was a bright sunny day and I could not believe what the weatherman had said. I walked around the beach and the other half empty hotels that proved that the season was over. After a quick rest in the room, I checked out of the Grande Dame of Cape May for a trip to the zoo. It had been a great stay, truly relaxing and just what the doctor ordered. I had needed this rest.

By the time I left the hotel for the Cape May Zoo (see review on TripAdvisor and VisitingaMuseum@Wordpress.com) up on Route 9, it started to get cloudy and by the time I was walking into the zoo, it poured! Going to a zoo in the rain is not much fun as the animals took shelter too and I didn’t get to see many of them unless they were in a protected environment. As there was a break in the weather, some of the peeked out and greeted the visitors. I enjoyed visiting the zoo but have to say it is another Eighties type of zoo that is need of an update. I think there must be more interesting  ways to have animals live then in some of the smaller exhibitions.

I decided I wanted to explore the state and drove up Route 9 which would take me directly to Newark. Big Mistake! It took five hours to get home going through all those smalls towns. I really did see the middle of the State of New Jersey but it took over five hours to get home with traffic instead of the two and half by the Garden State Parkway. I am glad I did it once.

The next week I returned to Cape May for the annual NJ Firemen’s Convention when about 8,000 fire fighters from all over the State of New Jersey convene for the Annual Convention. I can’t take the crowds of Wildwood and I stayed at the Chalfonte Hotel for a second time.

This time when I checked into the hotel, I was ‘upgraded’ which I find a dirty word in the hotel industry. It means that you are not getting the room that you were promised. In my case, I was moved out of the main hotel to the ‘Southern Quarters’ annex next door. It was no problem for me. I figured the wedding party that checked in that day all wanted to be together and it meant that I got a better room with my own bathroom (no more sharing). The weird part was that I got the same exact room that I had at Christmas when I spent one night here on December 26th, 2017 (See Day One Hundred December 2017). Still I enjoyed the piece and quiet of the annex and it was nicer then the main hotel.

The only part about the room at the annex was that it was a top floor room of an old Victorian house and at one time must have been the attic. I am so tall that I had to lean down to brush my teeth and take a shower. Still it offered a lot of privacy when I finished my meetings.

The first day of the convention was really gloomy. The storm had finally hit land down South and it was misty and cloudy our first day of the convention. Since we did not have to be at the meeting until 1:00pm, I got up early and went to Uncle Bill’s Restaurant at 261 Beach Avenue in Cape May (see review on TripAdvisor) for breakfast since the Magnolia Room was closed. Uncle Bill’s is a institution in the South Jersey Shore area. It was founding in 1962 in Stone Harbor and has expanded to five other locations on the Southern New Jersey shore. I could tell by the food and service it is the typical Jersey Shore restaurant which caters to family who like nice size portions at a good price.

I love the breakfasts here. They cook the eggs in clarified butter so they have that creamy taste to them and the pancakes I ordered in the platter were as light as air. When the Pancake and Egg Platter was served ($12.95), it could have fed two people. It was a great shore breakfast.

uncle bills pancake house

Uncle Bill’s

After breakfast I had some time on my hands before the meeting and had planned to visit the Wildwood Historical Society at 3907 Pacific Avenue in Wildwood, NJ (See my reviews on TripAdvisor and VisitingaMuseum@Wordpress.com). The Society is only open from 9:00am-2:00pm so the only time I could have gone was that morning due to all the meetings.

The Wildwood Historical Society is an interesting little museum filled with photos and memorabilia from all eras of Wildwood’s history. Rooms were dedicated to the fire department, police department, the military, the schools, the amusement areas and the government. Each room had all sorts of artifacts and loaded with pictures in albums and on the wall.

wildwood historical museum

Wildwood Historical Society

In the hallways was old artifacts from the amusement areas that had been part of the fun of the parks over the many seasons.  Many were pieces of the old parts or old rides and signs. Towards the back of the amusement area display were old restaurant menus and hotel displays.

The museum can be a little overwhelming because there is so much crammed into the rooms that there is a lot to see at one time and the only problem with the museum is its limited hours. Surprisingly when I was there, the morning was so gloomy that there were many people from the convention there as well. A group of us were watching a video of the history of Wildwood, NJ before I left for the convention.

The Annual NJ Firemen’s Convention is interesting. There were about 8,000 fire fighters from all over the State of New Jersey in the convention hall all ready to vote on issues. We had the usual welcome speeches, flag salute and color guard and then it was business as usual. We wrapped by 2:30pm so we had time to walk around and see the fire equipment displays.

Since it was so cloudy most people packed up and went back to their hotels. I walked the Boardwalk to my favorite pizzeria, Joe’s Italian Pizzeria at 2812 Boardwalk between Magnolia & Poplar Streets (see reviews on TripAdvisor and DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com) for one of their giant slices of pizza.

joe's pizzeria wildwood

Joe’s Pizza in Wildwood, NJ

The slices at Joe’s are double the size of a normal slice of pizza and they even put a little swirl of sauce on top to finish it off. Their pizza is consistent and delicious and it is fun trying to eat that giant 28 inch slice. There are two problems with the place though. One is that it is cash only in the 21st Century and second is that try to load their glasses up with ice and give you very little soda so you have to ask for just a little ice. Otherwise it is a nice place for a slice.

As I left the Boardwalk it got darker outside and there were very few people walking around the Boardwalk. I left to visit the Hereford Lighthouse at 111 North Central Avenue in North Wildwood, NJ (see reviews on TripAdvisor and VisitingaMuseum@Wordpress.com). The Hereford Lighthouse is a Victorian Lighthouse that was built in 1874 and was operational until no longer deemed functional after the early 1960’s and a more modern structure was built leaving this building to rot away. Preservationists saved the building and restored it in 1983.

I was surprised on how busy the museum was that afternoon. I guess people just did not want to walk on the beach on such a gloomy day. Each floor of the lighthouse shows it use and progress over almost one hundred years, with period furniture, family heirlooms and pictures, sea-going maps and nautical items. Floor by floor you see family living arrangements and the life the families had when they lived here.

The most beautiful view is from the top of the lighthouse on the third floor which had a spectacular view on the ocean and the surrounding area. What fascinated me the most was the history of the families who lived here and how they adopted to life here. The pictures of the holidays in the lighthouse were interesting. They even had a family reunion of the children who lived here a few years ago and to see these kids as children then as senior citizens was pretty remarkable.

What I liked about the museum was the gardens that surrounded the property. Even though it was not a nice afternoon out it was nice to walk through the flowered paths and shrubs and then take the back path to the bay area behind the property and see the bay and ocean. On a nice day in the middle of the summer it must be something.

After my trip to the Hereford Lighthouse, I drove through the neighborhood to see the changes in the town. Even though Hurricane Sandy did not affect the Wildwood’s the way it did other shore towns there has been a lot of building in both North Wildwood and Wildwood Crest with the edges of Wildwood proper going through the change.

hereford lighthouse museum

Hereford Lighthouse

All these towns are being knocked down and rebuilt with newer homes and businesses. Here and there are traces of the old Wildwood but slowly the towns are coming into the modern age with new condos and homes being built replacing the small shore houses of the 50’s and 60’s. Even the old motels that catered to the tourists are slowly disappearing which is going to affect all of us at the convention as these places vanish. I could see that the towns are becoming year round communities.

For dinner I went to my favorite restaurant in Wildwood, The Ravioli House and Bakery at 102 Bennett Avenue in Wildwood, NJ (see reviews on TripAdvisor).  I love their bakery which is located in the back of the restaurant which has a separate entrance. The bakery has cases of Italian pastries that are all beautifully displayed and you just want to try one after another. I settled on a chocolate eclair ($3.00) just in time to spoil my dinner but what is wrong with eating dessert first? This delicious pastry was loaded with vanilla custard and topped with a thick layer of chocolate icing. There is nothing better but making a choice was hard. The custard doughnut that looked like a peach would have to be tried as well.

I managed to walk around a little before dinner and then went in for dinner at The Ravioli House for the second year in a row. It was loaded with fire fighting families and groups of people from the convention. The restaurant was busy that whole evening and I could tell that they were short on help.

It some time for dinner but I was in no rush. Dinner here is well worth the wait. I started with one of their garden salads ($3.95) which was loaded with fresh greens, cucumbers and tomatoes. No hot house vegetables here. The salad was crisp and nicely accented by the oil and vinegar dressing. For dinner, I had the Trio of Ravioli ($19.95) which ended up being a duo since they ran out of spinach ravioli. So I just had the meat and cheese ravioli which are freshly made in the restaurant and were as light as air. The meat ravioli were some of the best I have eaten. For dessert, I had the Peach Custard Doughnut ($3.95), which was a doughnut, split in half, filled with cream rolled in sugar and liqueur to give it that peach color exterior. It was well worth the second dessert but was a little sweet to end the meal. I ended up talking to the owners daughter again who works the register. I swear it was like ‘Some Time Next Year’ visiting places I had last year.

I got to bed early that night when I started to get tired after listening to the band at the King Edward Bar for a bit. I said ‘I’ll just lie down for a second’. I woke up at Midnight and then went back to bed.

My last morning in Wildwood was nice. I woke up early, checked out of the hotel and headed to the boardwalk for breakfast. I had walked around the Boardwalk the day before and passed Franconi’s Pizza at 3318 Boardwalk in Wildwood, NJ (See review on TripAdvisor). The owners were outside shoving menus into everyone’s hands and one of the items on the menu was a breakfast special for firefighters for $5.99. I thought I have to try this.

I have never had breakfast at a pizzeria on a boardwalk before but this is the standard that all should be set. The food was delicious! For $5.99, I got two pancakes, two eggs, two slices of bacon, a mound of potatoes and two slices of toast. The juice was separate. It was meal that could have fed two people and everything was delicious. All the food was cooked in clarified butter and you could taste it in the scrambled eggs which were fluffy and in the pancakes which you could taste in the carmelization of the outside of the pancakes. I was so stuffed that I rolled out of the restaurant. It was one of the best breakfast’s I ever had out and I highly recommend it when walking the Boardwalk in Wildwood in the morning.

It had cleared and was sunny and blue outside. It was a spectacular day to walk around the Boardwalk. The morning meeting went by quickly as I could see that everyone wanted to get out of there and go outside to enjoy the sunny morning. We started our meeting at 9:00am, voted for our new officers for the Association and were out by 10:30am. Most people were outside walking around the fire equipment or walking with their families on the Boardwalk by the time I got outside. I took one last walk on the Boardwalk to stretch my legs before I left for Newark, DE for the Cornell versus University of Delaware football game (we lost 27-10 but not the blood bath of last year). So there was a distance to drive.

I left Wildwood until ‘Same Time Next Year’ for the next convention. There are a lot more places to explore and restaurants to try. You never know what you will come across in a shore town.

Places to Eat:

Magnolia Room/King Edward Bar@ The Chalfonte Hotel

301 Howard Street

Cape May, New Jersey 08204

Open : 8:30am-10:00pm/6:00pm-9:00pm

(609) 884-8409

http://www.chalfonte.com

Closes for the season October 1st.

 

Uncle Bill’s Pancake House

261 Beal Avenue

Cape May, New Jersey 08204

(609) 884-7199

http://www.unclebillspancakehouse.com

Open: 7:00am-2:00pm (when in season)

 

Joe’s Italian Pizzeria

2812 Boardwalk between Magnolia & Poplar Streets

Wildwood, NJ 08260

(609) 522-7010

Open: Sunday-Saturday-10:30am-12:00am

 

Ravioli House & Bakery

102 Bennett Avenue

Wildwood, NJ  08260

(609) 552-7894

http://www.raviolohousewildwood.com

Hours: Sunday-Saturday-4:00pm-9:00pm/Bakery-10:00am-9:00pm (In season)-Please check with the restaurant as it closes as the season winds down. Both close down on October 14th.

Franconi’s Pizza

3318 Boardwalk

Wildwood, NJ  08620

(609) 552-2800

Open: Sunday-Saturday-8:00am-12:00am (check hours with them after the season is over)

wildwood.orderfranconispizzeria.com

 

Place to Visit:

George F. Boyer Wildwood Historical Museum

3907 Pacific Avenue

Wildwood, New Jersey 08206

(609-523-0277

http://www.wildwoodhistoricalmuseum.com

Open: Monday-Saturday-9:00am-2:00pm/Closed Sunday

Fee: Free; donation asked

 

The Heveford Lighthouse

111 North Central Avenue

North Wildwood, NJ  08260

(609) 522-4520

http://www.herefordlighthouse.org

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

Fee: Free; donation suggested

Cape May County Park and Zoo

707 US Route 9

Cape May Courthouse, NJ  08210

(609) 465-5271

Open: 10:30am-4:30pm (when in season)

http://www.capemaycountynj.gov/1008/Park-Zoo

Fee: Free but they ask for a donation

History of the Chalfonte Hotel:

(Provided by the Chalfonte Hotel History Website)

Chalfonte Beginnings:

Built in the nineteenth century, the Chalfonte offers ‘the view from yesterday, genteel Southern-style hospitality, ornate gingerbread verandas line with comfortable rocking chairs and a constant sea breeze to rejuvenate and refresh. The Chalfonte’s distinctive ship-like profile, crowned by her Italianate cupola, now occupies nearly an entire city block. The hotel was built in 1876 by Civil War Colonel Henry Sawyer and was originally planned as a boarding house. Sawyer’s Chalfonte underwent most of its expansion between 1876 and 1909 and the present footprint is much as it was in 1909. This venerable grande dame by the sea still retains its Victorian Charm-louvered door to let the breeze through, Southern cuisine in The Magnolia Room and original antiques and fixtures throughout.

President Lincoln and the Chalfonte:

The history of the Chalfonte Hotel begins with a story that rivals “Gone with the Wind”. Sawyer arrived in Cape May in 1848 at the age of eighteen, a supporter of the Union side in the Civil War. He enlisted in a Pennsylvania regiment since a New Jersey one had not been formed. After three months service and rising to the rank of Captain, he returned home only to re-enlist in a New Jersey regiment. In June 1863, after being captured during a bloody exchange at the Battle of Brandy in Virginia, Sawyer was incarcerated at Libby Prison in Richmond.

In retaliation for shooting two Confederate Cavalry prisoners of war, the Confederacy proposed to execute two Union prisoners, drawn by lottery. Sawyer was on of the two selected in the lottery of death. When Sawyer’s wife heard new of her husband’s execution, she did not go into a state of morning, instead rushing cross country to Washington to meet with President Lincoln and beg for his intervention. As a result, Secretary of War Stanton warned the South they would execute two Confederates if they executed the two Union prisoners. Upping the stakes, one of the Confederate prisoners selected was the son of General Robert E. Lee. The situation ended with Sawyer being released in a swap with Robert E. Lee’s son. He resumed active duty and returned to Cape May in 1875 as a recognized war hero.

Sawyer’s Chalfonte:

Having bought a parcel of land in 1872 at the corner of Howard Street and Sewell Avenue in 1875, Sawyer began construction of “Sawyer’s Chalfonte” (Chalfonte means ‘cool fountain’ in French; Sawyer’s reason for using the name is unknown). In 1876, Colonel Sawyer bought all the rest of the square bounded by Columbia, Franklin, Sewell and Howard except for the lot at the corner of Columbia and Howard except for the lot at the corner of Columbia and Howard.

Cape May’s inclination away from resort hotels in favor of the intimacy of cottages had already begun. This trend was sealed in the fall of 1878 when the city suffered yet another disastrous fire. Previous fires had seen the total destruction of the Mt. Vernon Hotel in 1858 and of more properties in 1869. While the fire of 1878 reduced Cape May’s count of hotel rooms from 2200 to 200 in a single night and marked the demise of large hotel construction in the rest of Cape May, the Chalfonte, standing unscathed beyond the fire’s reach was about to experience an unprecedented expansion.

The same year Henry Sawyer extended his then two year old boarding house down Sewell Avenue, adding nineteen rooms to his existing eighteen. The original residence and addition were significant improvement in architectural refinement over the pre-Civil War hotels. While in no way extravagant, the building had a simple dignified Italian form (some times known as ‘Cube Italian’ in Cape May) with a balanced plan and facade.

In spite of suffering the ravages of time and storm, with minimal foundations, the first three phases of the building are soundly built with an eye to graceful resolution of any geometrical anomalies. Sawyer owned the hotel for another ten years, selling it in 1888 after just thirteen years of ownership.  He died in 1893.

Chalfonte Today:

Between 1888 and 1911 the Chalfonte was extended to its current size, adding another twenty three rooms along Sewell Avenue, enlarging the dining room  and providing delightful architectural riddles for future preservationist to solve.

 

 

Day One Hundred and Thirteen: Tour of Historic Pubs and Bars in Lower Manhattan with the Cornell Club-May 9th, 2018

I took some time out of my regular touring and took a historic tour of the pubs and bars of lower Manhattan with the Cornell Club. The club had arranged this tour through one of the local historical tour companies in the City in which we would be touring sections of local historic watering holes. This included the Frances Tavern, Delmonico’s and India House.

We met on the stairs of the National Museum of the American Indian which once upon a time was the U.S. Customs House. Here we met our tour guide and we started our discussion on historic bars and restaurants and their place in lower Manhattan.

The tour started with a talk on the Alexander Hamilton U.S. Custom House building located at 1 Bowling Green. The building was designed by architect Cass Gilbert, who also designed the Woolworth Building  with construction beginning in 1902 and was finished in 1907 and considered a masterpiece in Beaux-Arts style (Wiki).

The interesting part of the building is when you look up to the roof to see the statuary of ‘The Continents’, also called the ‘Four Continents’ of Asia, America, Europe and Africa. Located on the main cornice are standing sculptures representing the great seafaring nations, representing American seagoing commerce (Wiki and tour guide).

U.S. Custom House.jpg

U.S. Custom House

The interesting part of the discussion was that the U.S. Custom House sits on the site of Fort Amsterdam, the fortification constructed by the Dutch West Indian Company to defend their operations in the Hudson Valley. It was the center of the settlement (Wiki and tour guide).

Our next stop on the tour was walking around Bowling Green Park across the street from the U.S. Custom House. The park is the oldest public park in New York City and is one of the two rumored places that Peter Minuit ‘bought’ the island of Manhattan from the Native Americans in 1626 (the other being in Inwood Park) and had once served as the Council grounds for the local Native American tribes (NYC Parks.org).

Bowling Green Park.jpg

Bowling Green Park

The park was first designated a park in 1733 when it was offered for rent at the cost of one peppercorn per year. There had been a gilded statue of King George III erected there in 1770 and an iron fence (still there and a New York landmark) installed in 1771. On July 9, 1776 at the first public hearing of the Declaration of Independence, the statue was toppled by angry citizens and melted down for ammunition (NYC Parks & Tour Guide). The crowns that used to line the fence had been sawed off and you can still see traces of it on the fences.

The area surrounding the park became a fashionable residence in the lat 18th century and mid-19th century, the area gave way to business and manufacturing. The park has since gone through many renovations, including the most recent 2004 which re-landscaped the park and added new bluestone sidewalks, plantings, gas lamps and hoof benches (NYC Parks & Tour guide).

Just north of the Bowling Green Park is the 7,100 pound statue of the ‘Charging Bull’ by artist Arturo DiModica. DiModica states that “Bronze figure of the bull represents the strength, power and hope of the American people for the future.” This was dealing after the Crash of the Market in 1987. Considered ‘guerrilla’ art when it was illegally installed in front of the New York Stock Exchange during the Christmas holiday season in 1989, the statue was moved to its current location in the Spring of 1989 and been there since.

Fearless Girl

Fearless Girl

Next to the statute, another statue has been cast and placed near the bull. “Fearless Girl” was installed in 2017 the night before International Women’s Day and was created by artist Kristen Visbal and was commissioner by State Street Global Advisers as a marketing campaign for their index fund. The artist says that the statue of the young girl shows her as being “brave, proud and strong.” There has been criticism between the two artists on the meaning of the statutes (Wiki).

Charging Bull.jpg

Charging Bull

The first historic bar we visited was the Fraunces Tavern at 54 Pearl Street (See review on TripAdvisor). The restaurant has played a prominent role in history before, during and after the American Revolution,  serving as a headquarters for George Washington, a venue for peace negotiations with the British and housing federal offices in the Early Republic. It is owned by the Sons of the Revolution in the State of New York Inc. and claim it is Manhattan’s oldest surviving buildings with the current being built by Stephen DeLancey, the son in law of New York Mayor Stephanus van Cortlandt in 1719 (Wiki).

Francus Tavern.jpg

Fraunces Tavern

We only stayed at the bar for a short time, looking at the period furniture and some of the museum quality artifacts before some of the members of our group ordered a drink. I have to tell you one thing, they get very testy if you sit a table and don’t order anything. Check out their website at http://www.francestavern.com for the menu’s and full history.

Our next stop on the tour was historic Stone Street, a cluster of historic buildings along Stone, South William and Pearl Streets and Coenties Alley. The street’s stores and lofts were built for dry-goods merchants and importers shortly after the Great Fire of 1835, which destroyed many remnants of New Amsterdam (Wiki).

stone street II

Stone Street

The street had been neglected for years but a partnership between the New York Landmarks Preservation Commission and other city agencies, the Alliance for Downtown New York and Stone Street business owners transformed the area into the lively entertainment area that contains several restaurants and bars (Wiki & the Tour Guide).

The middle of Stone Street now is lined with tables used by all the restaurants for seating and is a very active area during lunch and Happy Hour time. We walked among the busy tables and looked at the menus but didn’t stop here. I had stopped earlier at Justino’s Pizzeria at 77 Pearl Street for a snack (See review on TripAdvisor). Their pizza is quite good although I think that Pranzo at 34 Water Street is better. They give you a better slice and the sauce is much spicier.

After we left the Stone Street Historic area, we walked up Broad Street to see the New York Stock Exchange and the Federal Hall District. This is the seat of the financial center and the capital of the financial world.

The New York Stock Exchange at 8-18 Broad Street was built in 1903 replacing the original Victorian structure which had been built in 1865. The building was designed by architect George Browne Post, who was a native New Yorker who studied architecture and civil engineering at NYU. He designed it in Second Empire design (Wiki and the Tour Guide).

Standing on Wall Street, you can see the 1903 building rise ten stories above the sidewalk. Six Corinthian columns steadily rise from a seven-bay-wide podium set between two rectangular pilasters. He complimented the six columns with symmetry of seven with a center flat arched doorway with three more on either side. The podium symmetry continues to the second store, where directly above each street-level doorway is a contrasting round-arched opening. Balustraded balconies between floors provide the classic ornamentation as do lintels with carved fruit and flowers (Architecture of New York Stock Exchange Building & Tour Guide).

new york stock exchange.jpg

New York Stock Exchange

We passed the now closed Stock Exchange building and continued on to Federal Hall at 26 Wall Street. We discovered that this is not the original building but its replacement that was built in 1842.

The original Federal Hall was a Greek Revival structure completed in 1703 and served as New York’s first City Hall. It was where the Stamp Act Congress met to draft a letter to King George on opposition to the Stamp Act and after the Revolution for the Congress of the Confederation held under the Articles of Confederation. It was renamed Federal Hall when it became the first Capital of the Newly created United States in 1789 and hosted the first United States Congress. On its steps, George Washington was sworn in as the first President. That building was demolished in 1812 (Wiki & the Tour Guide).

Federal Hall.jpg

Federal Hall

The current structure, completed in 1842 and one of the best surviving examples of neoclassical architecture in New York, was built as the U.S. Custom House for the Port of New York. Later it served as a sub-Treasury building. It is operated today by the National Park Service as a national memorial and designated the Federal Hall National Memorial (Wiki and the Tour Guide).

The statue of George Washington was designed by John Quincy Adams Ward in 1882 and was erected on the front steps of the building, marking the approximate site where he was inaugurated as President of the United States. Part of the original railing and balcony floor where Washington was inaugurated are on display in the memorial (Wiki).

We also looked at the original J.P. Morgan Building at 23 Wall Street or known as ‘The Corner’. The building was designed by Trowbridge & Livingston and built in 1913. It was known as the ‘House of Morgan’ so there were no signs with the Morgan name. The building was designed in the classical architecture and Morgan made sure that it was designed only four feet high (Wiki). When I asked the tour guide why, he basically said everyone knew who J. P. Morgan was and he didn’t have to prove it.

jp morgan building

JP Morgan Building Wall Street

The foundation of the building is constructed deep and strong enough in order to support a forty foot tower if it needed to be built. The company moved its operations to 60 Wall Street and the company sold the building and it has had several owners. Our tour guide said that the building was rumored to be turned into condos (Wiki and the Tour Guide).

We moved down Beaver Street towards Wall Street and our second stop of the tour at Delmonico’s restaurant at 56 Beaver Street. The restaurant has moved and changed since it was founded in 1827. The restaurant has always been since it’s founding a place of society and influence. The restaurant was first operated by the Delmonico family as a small cafe and pastry shop at 23 William Street. Later it would be considered one of the nation’s top fine dining restaurants and the birthplace of such dishes as Baked Alaska, Lobster Newberg and famous Delmonico steak. It was the first restaurant to allow patrons to order from a menu a la carte as opposed to table d’hote. It also claimed to be the first to employ a separate wine list (Wiki & the Tour Guide).

The current location of Delmonico’s was opened in 1926 by restaurateur Oscar Tucci as a speakeasy and this restaurant would continue on until 1986. It has operated in this location at different times as Delmonico’s since and has currently been open since 1998 (Wiki, Delmonico’s History and the Tour Guide).

Delmonico's.jpg

Delmonico’s

I found the restaurant to be very formal and a little stuffy for a tour group to visit since we were not all dressed for the occasion. The restaurant patrons were all dressed up and I had to parade through the dining room in shorts, which are not allowed in the formal dining room. We had a drink at the bar and I found it to be excellent. The service at the busy bar was friendly and very inviting and I was ready to stay for some dinner.  The bar atmosphere was very engaging and we had a nice time there. It is expensive but well worth it once (See review on TripAdvisor).

We walked down the street to The Queen Elizabeth II September 11th Garden located across the street from Hanover Square. The land around this part has been in public used since 1637 and in 1730 became known as Hanover Square in tribute to the House of Hanover. It had been the center for commerce and printing in the beginnings of New York and was destroyed by the Great Fire of 1835. The small triangled parcel was not developed into a park until 1952 and was rededicated with new landscaping until the 1970’s. It has since been redesigned again with new plantings, benches and decorations (Wiki and the Tour Guide).

It was rededicated July 6, 2010 by Queen Elizabeth II as The Queen Elizabeth II September 11th Garden in memory of the 67 British citizens that lost their lives in the September 11th attacks. Originally named the ‘British Gardens’ it was again rededicated and renamed on May 2, 2012 and the ceremony led by the Dean of Westminster Abbey which included other members of the Commonwealth nations (Wiki). It is such a nice place to just relax and the plantings are beautiful. I told the tour guide that it is a very touching place to visit.

Queen Elizabeth II Park.jpg

Queen Elizabeth II Park

Our last part of the tour was a visit to India House now called 1 Hanover Square, which is located at the very end of the Stone Street Historic district. Located at the southern end of Hanover Square and facing the Queen Elizabeth II September 11th garden across the street, the building was built in 1851 and was the site of the nation’s first commodity futures exchange, the New York Cotton Exchange and was designated a National Landmark in 1977 and a New York City Landmark in 1965 (Wiki & the Tour Guide).

India House

India House

The structure was built out of brownstone and designed in the Italian Renaissance style by builder, developer and merchant, Richard F. Carman. It had been the headquarters of Hanover Bank and then the Cotton Exchange. Since then it has operated as a private club since 1913 and now houses restaurants (Wiki).

The main facade of the building has eight bays wide, with the main entrance occupying two bays at the center. Windows on the ground floor are tall and set in openings flanked by paneled pilasters and topped by pediment segmental arches Second floor windows are smaller, set beneath gabled pediments and their floor windows are smaller still with simpler surrounds. The building is crowned by a modillioned cornice (Wiki).

We ended the tour at the restaurant on the bottom level where some of the group stayed for dinner. I headed off to the Wonton Noodle Garden on Mott Street for dinner. After a long tour outdoors and the night getting cooler, a steaming bowl of Cantonese Wonton Soup ($8.95) with a side of pan-fried dumplings ($5.00). This restaurant in the middle of the heart of Chinatown is my main standby when eating in the neighborhood. Like the rest of the Manhattan, I see the traces of gentrification creeping into the area. All you have to do is look at the buildings above.

Wonton Noodle Garden.jpg

Wonton Noodle Garden’s Cantonese Wonton Soup’s (Cure All)

My message to readers, please, get off the cell phones and look around you. You are missing a lot! I have walked this neighborhood dozens of times over the years and my eyes were open by all the changes and by the beauty of the surroundings. I will print more of my travels with the Cornell Club in future blogs. They are very interesting.

 

Places to Visit:

New York Stock Exchange Building

8-18 Broad Street

New York, NY  10004

https://www.nyse.com/

Federal Hall

26 Wall Street

New York, NY  10004

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

23 Wall Street

23 Wall Street

New York, NY  10004

 

India House/1 Hanover Square

New York, NY  10004

http://www.indiahouseclub.org/

 

Bowling Green Park/Charging Bull Statue/Fearless Girl Statue

Broadway & Whitehall Street

New York, NY 10004

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

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g60763-d1605557-Reviews-Charging_Bull_Wall_Street_Bull-New_York_City_New_York.html

Stone Street

New York, NY  10004

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stone_Street_(Manhattan)

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g60763-d105043-Reviews-Stone_Street_Historic_District-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

The Queen Elizabeth II September 11th Garden

Hanover Square

New York, NY  10004

https://queenelizabethgarden.org/

 

Places to Eat:

Justino’s Pizza

77 Pearl Street

New York, NY  10004

(212) 797-9692

http://www.justinospizzeria.com

Open: Monday-Saturday-10:00am-11:59pm/Sunday-11:00am-9:00pm

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d8743404-Reviews-Justino_s_Pizzeria-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

 

Pranzo Pizza & Italian Specialties

34 Water Street

New York, NY  10014

http://www.pranzopizzapasta.com

Phone: (212) 344-8068

Fax: (212) 344-0191

Open: Monday-Thursday-8:00am-8:00pm/Friday-8:00am-7:00pm/Saturday-10:00am-5:00pm

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d426152-Reviews-Pranzo-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

 

Delmonico’s

56 Beaver Street

New York, NY  10004

(212) 519-1144

http://www.delmonicos.com

https://delmonicos.com/

Open: Monday-Friday: 11:30am-10:00pm

Saturday:  5:00pm-10:00pm

Sunday: Closed

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d459628-Reviews-Delmonico_s-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

Fraunces Tavern

54 Pearl Street

New York, NY 10004

(212) 425-1778

Open: Monday-Friday-12:00pm-5:00pm/Saturday & Sunday-11:00am-5:00pm

http://www.francestavern.com

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d426153-Reviews-Fraunces_Tavern_Restaurant-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

India House/1 Hanover Square

1 Hanover Square

New York, NY  10004

(212) 269-2323

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

http://www.indiahouseclub.org

 

Wonton Noodle Garden

56 Mott Street

New York, NY 10013

(212) 966-4033

http://www.wontonnoodlegarden.com

Open: Sunday-Thursday-10:00am-2:00am/Friday-9:00am-4:00am/Saturday-9:00am-4:00am

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d2370537-Reviews-Wonton_Noodle_Garden-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

 

 

Day One Hundred & Fourteen Visiting Lillian on her 100th Birthday June 6th, 2018

(In Memory of Lillian Heckler who passed on January 4th, 2019 going into her 101st year)

I went to visit a good friend of mine out on Long Island for her 100th birthday today. Even at 100, my friend, Lillian, still has mind that is very sharp and the luxury of a diet that she can eat everything and a healthy appetite (for someone who is 100).

I really lucked out with the weather as it had threatened to rain that day but ended up being a sunny day in the high 70’s. The sun peeked out enough where we could spend the day outside on the terrace away from the other residents.

Lillian and I have known each other since my days working at FAO Schwarz in the mid-nineties before I left for culinary arts school. I remember meeting Lillian for a brief moment in the late eighties when I was filling out an application to work at the store after graduation. She had directed my upstairs. I became good friends with her when I worked in the Pre-School Department in the Summer and Fall of 1996 when I took a leave from school. She had worked in the department for years at that point and at 86, she could ring circles around everyone in the department and in the store. I became very close to my staff in the department.

Having seen each other through life’s tragedies, with her the passing of her two children and mine with the passing of my dad, we have been each other’s listening ears. It takes a good friend to be there when a loved one is gone and be able to relate to it.

I have gone out more recently over the last two years as I have seen a big change in her and how happy these visits make her. I bring her meals for special occasions and for the holidays. Last year, I joined her for her birthday, Thanksgiving and Christmas and this year for Easter and her milestone 100th birthday. With each visit, I see her immediately cheer up and get a great big smile on her face when I come.

I told her that she is my hero for being 100 years old and still being able to do the things that she does. She still has a sharp mind and wit to her, a nice appetite where she is not restricted in her diet and the fact that when she gets up every morning that she has a purpose. She is the facility’s cheerleader.

She has always told me that when someone new comes to her floor and they look sad in being there, she will wheel herself over and try to cheer them up and make them feel welcome. That is a rare thing in assisted living. She gets involved in all sorts of activities like arts & crafts, music appreciation and special events especially during the holidays. She was in an Easter Bonnet parade this Easter and for the last two years, she was in the Christmas choir for a family day at the facility. She never lets the pitfalls of life affect her.

For her birthday, I went to Main Street Pizza Cafe at 89 Main Street (See my review on TripAdvisor) to pick up some lasagna with meat sauce and garlic knots for her birthday lunch. The food here is excellent. Their marinara sauce is delicious and really makes all their dishes shine. The lasagna is creamy on the inside and has a rich flavor from the meats they use in their sauce. Their garlic knots are soft on the inside and crisp and garlicky on the outside. While I was waiting, I was starved and order a piece of their ‘Grandma’ pizza with fresh tomato sauce and Parmesan cheese and it was one of the best slices of pizza I had had in a long time. The whole outside crust was brushed in garlic accented by the fresh tomato sauce that made every bite incredible.

For dessert and her birthday cake, I got some Italian cookies and a strawberry short cake with a birthday message at Park Bake Shop at 112 Route 25 Street A (See my reviews on TripAdvisor and my blog, “DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com). I swear that this has got to be one of the best bakeries in the Northeast. Everything I have tried here is delicious and some of the best German and Italian baked products around. Their doughnuts and turnovers are always excellent, topped or filled with all sorts of sweet ingredients. Lillian loved her birthday cake!

We spent our afternoon outside on the front terrace celebrating her birthday with a lot of good food, great conversation and a lot of laughs. We were joined with another caregiver who was taking care of an old friend of the family and the four of us did a lot of talking. I was surprised how both Lillian and the other woman just joined into the conversation like no one’s business. I think this is the power of caring and treating people who have a disability with respect and not as if they are different.

We spent our afternoon catching up on old times, things going on in our lives and Lillian told me of her time in the home. You should have seen how these women opened up when they had someone to talk to and who listened. The power of conversation!

After a nice afternoon of eating, lots of laughs and reminiscing, I had to head home on the long trip to New Jersey. So I got Lillian back inside and said my goodbyes. She was a different person when I left with a big smile and a big birthday balloon on her wheelchair to cheer her up. What a way to spend your 100th birthday!

This is what good friends are for!

Places to Eat:

Main Street Pizza Cafe

89 Main Street

Kings Park, NY  11754

(631) 269-0712

http://www.mainstreetpizzany.com

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g48001-d2524766-Reviews-Main_Street_Pizza_Cafe-Kings_Park_Long_Island_New_York.html?m=19905

Park Bake Shop

112 Route 25 Street A

Kings Park, NY  11754

(631) 269-3825

http://www.parkbakeshop.com

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g48001-d933880-Reviews-Park_Bake_Shop-Kings_Park_Long_Island_New_York.html?m=19905

My review on DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/diningonashoestringinnyc.wordpress.com/645

 

Day One Hundred & Twelve: Walking the Avenues of the lower part of the Upper East Side from Fifth Avenue to FDR Drive from 72nd Street to 59th Street May 23rd-May 30th, 2018

I started my walk today with a walking tour of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Sometimes the Soup Kitchen gets to be too much before these walks and since making my goal of two thousand hours, I have wanted to calm it down. My next goal will be twenty-five hundred hours but I can take my time on that one.

I toured the Asian galleries with other patrons of the museum. The exhibition was the “Crowns of the Vajra Masters: Ritual Art of Nepal” which was a tour of the famous crowns of Nepal. The funny part of these crowns were that they had always been in the collection but had been marked incorrectly by museum for the Armory Galleries as helmets. When they  discovered what they had in storage, they put them out on display and soon will be restored so we won’t see them again for a long time.

The unique part of the tour that the docent told us is that they had never been out on display together since they had been bought to the museum and the first time ever had been displayed at the museum the way they are now. You really had to have the details explained as the symbolism of each crown stood on its own, with their Buddhas and flowers described in detail. All of them were accented with semi-precious jewels.

After the tour was over, I had enough time to walk around the new “Visitors to Versailles” exhibition. This is an exhibition you should not miss while it is open. It has all sorts of the pictures and artifacts on the creation of the building, how it progressed, who visited and how it continued to be added on up to the French Revolution and into the modern times. It was fascinating to see the progress on how it started as a hunting lodge right up to the modern gardens that were installed. Be prepared for at least a two hour visit for both exhibitions to see them properly. It was better than spending the morning cutting vegetables.

I started my walk around the neighborhood at East 72nd Street, walking the lower part of the street passing familiar businesses and apartment buildings. It is amazing how fast scaffolding goes up. It must grow on its own because in just a few weeks, more buildings are surrounded by it or are in the process of being redone or knocked down. As I have said in previous entries, Manhattan is changing at a pace that you can not keep up with it. You can walk a block and a week later it seems that something is in the process of change.

This is true on the first Avenue I walked today, the ever changing York Avenue. It just seems like the entire Avenue is being rebuilt. I have never seen so many new buildings going up on one street. The rest of the blocks will certainly be going through the transition.

If you want to tour the FDR Walkway tour of the river, cross over at East 71st Street and York Avenue and cross the walkway here. It has the most beautiful views of the river and of Roosevelt Island. This is one way to get down to East 59th Street and the edge of the neighborhood. You can also cross over the East 63rd Street entrance as well to the river walk.

York Avenue has the Cornell-Weill Hospital between East 71st to East 68th Streets so these are busy blocks and then you pass the tranquil Rockefeller University between East 68th to East 63rd Street where most of the property facing York Avenue is landscaped and park-like and very pleasant to walk by. I just wish the campus was more open like the Columbia is where you can walk around the Quad. At the end of York Avenue at East 59th Street under the Queensboro Bridge starts the exclusive Sutton Place.

As I have said in a previous blog, really look at the beautiful artwork on the Queensboro Bridge, with it geometric designs along the sides, its beautiful tiling and its vaulted ceilings. The now closed supermarket under the bridge must have been amazing to shop in when it was open.

For lunch I stopped at Go Noodle Chinese Restaurant at 1069 First Avenue (See review on TripAdvisor) which was part of a series of restaurants near the bridge. Its a nice restaurant to sit in and people watch. The lunch specials are reasonable and very good. I started my meal with an egg roll and then had shredded chicken with string beans for my entree. The food here is very good. The entree was loaded with chicken cooked in a brown garlic tasting sauce with properly sauted string beans. The egg roll was better than most I have tried at neighborhood Chinese restaurants but standard with roast pork and shredded cabbage. At $8.25 for a full meal plus the soda, not a bad price for lunch and it was lunch and dinner for me.

After lunch, I needed a rest from the large lunch and all the walking and I stopped in Twenty-Four Sycamore Park on the corner of York Avenue at 501 East 60th Street right next to the Andrew Haswell Green Park on the other side of the road. This delightful little park is very popular with the kiddie/nanny set and had kids scrambling all over the place on this hot day chasing after one another while all the adults sat in the shade and talked amongst themselves. It was a nice place to just sit back and relax. I just tried to avoid the squirt gun fight going on.

24 Sycamore Park.jpg

24 Sycamores Park

As you turn to the lower part of First Avenue, you still see traces of the older part of the city but as you enter the higher East 60’s, things start to change. More and more new buildings are going up. The popular St. Catherine’s Park is between East 67th to 68th Streets and according to the park system mimics the Santa Maria sopra Minerva Church in Rome in its layout to honor St. Catherine (NYCParks). This is another popular spot in the neighborhood for kids and adults alike. Kids were running around all over the park while the parents were relaxing under the shade trees. The sandbox seemed to be really popular with the kids jockeying for space in it.

St. Catherine's Park.jpg

St. Catherine’s Park

When reaching East 66th Street, you will come across the large condominium complex of Manhattan House, which was built between 1950 to 1951 and designed by Gordon Bunshaft for the firm of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill in the modernist style. It overlooks a garden that runs the entire block with two sculptures by the artist Hans Van de Bovenkamp (which you can see from the sidewalk through the windows). Some of the famous people who have lived there include actress Grace Kelly and musician Benny Goodman. The apartment complex reached landmark status in 2007 and take time to walk around the front garden of the complex. It looks like something in Fort Lee, NJ.

Manhattan House.jpg

Manhattan House Apartments

Second and Third Avenues are mostly commercial but have many spots to look over and visit. Walking down Third Avenue past East 66th Street is a plaque on the site of the Nathan Hale, the American Patriot and spy,  hanging by the British during the Revolutionary War. The site is much debated based on its location near the Dove Tavern on the Old Post Road. Another is by the Yale Club near East 44th Street. There has been a debate where the Royal Artillery Park was located. If only Nathan Hale knew where he died would now be a Pier One Store, even he would be shocked.

Nathan Hale Plaque

Nathan Hale Plaque at the Pier One Store

Down the Avenue at East 60th Street is Dylan’s Candy Bar at 1011 Third Avenue, a giant emporium of candy and sweets, (which I hate to say is an exact copy of the old FAO Schweetz, which I ran back in the 90’s when I worked at FAO Schwarz Fifth Avenue. It was very reminiscent of the department due to the fact that the designers of the store, store management and buyer all came from the store to work with Dylan Lauren, designer Ralph Lauren’s daughter. My boss, Jeff, is one of her partners).

She took the creation and made it her own in a store that stocks 7,000 types of candy and a small cafe on the third floor. With the inspiration of “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory”, the store leads into a real life ‘Candyland’. The store is stocked with a rainbow of sweets and treats and one of the top tourist spots in the City (Dylan’s Candy Bar press).

Dylan's Candy Bar

Dylan’s Candy Bar NYC

I stopped at Bloomingdale’s Department Store at 1000 Third Avenue at 59th and Lexington Avenue, the famous ‘Bloomies’, for another visit to ‘Forty Carrots’ (See review on TripAdvisor) on the 7th Floor. I swear on a hot day this is one of the best solutions. For $7.00, I had a small strawberry yogurt with rainbow sprinkles that cooled me down after this part of the long walk around the neighborhood.

40 Carrots

40 Carrots

I got a chance to walk around the store and look at the merchandise. I have to say that the store has changed a lot over the years. It has gotten more upscale and the merchandise more expensive. It still has its past allure but has gotten more elegant in its feel.

Walking back up Lexington Avenue there are a few buildings of interest you really have to see. At 131 East 66th Street and Lexington Avenue is The Studio Building, considered one of the purest Italian Renaissance-palazzo style apartment buildings in New York City. The twelve story building was designed by Charles A. Platt for developer, William J. Taylor, who had developed ‘studio’ apartment buildings on the West Side of Manhattan. Mr. Platt  also designed the other sister building at 130-134 East 67th Street (CityRealty).

The buildings are distinguished by the handsome and large cornice and its very impressive entrance portals flanked by columns and topped with broken pediments on the street-side. The building has a nice tall, wrought-iron fence and four string courses (CityRealty). The buildings were designed landmarked in 1949 for their unique design. Both buildings are quite breath-taking to look at for their elegance.

Studio Building.jpg

Studio Building

As you walk further up Lexington Avenue, you will pass the Seventh Regiment Armory, whose entrance is at 643 Park Avenue, that goes the full block from Lexington to Park Avenues (you can see the statue dedicated to the regiment on Fifth Avenue), the Armory was built between 1877-1881 and is considered to have one of the most important collection of 19th Century intact interiors in New York City. It is now used as a performance art space.

Park Armory.jpg

Park Avenue Armory

The building was built in the ‘Silk Stocking’ district of Manhattan and was one of the first regiments to answer the call of arms by President Lincoln for the start of the Civil War in 1861. It was designed by Charles W. Clinton of the firm of Clinton & Russell and had been a member of the Regiment. It had been used as a military facility and a social club Armory History).

Further up the road between East 67th-69th Streets is the famed Hunter College campus. The students were out in full force when I was walking around the campus. Like Rockefeller University, this college dominates this part of the neighborhood with students and businesses catering to them.  The problem is that the rents are getting so expensive, the students can’t support the upscale businesses that surround the campus and I am beginning to notice that there are more and more empty storefronts around the neighborhood. Still it has a great bookstore to visit.

The rest of Lexington Avenue is surrounded by businesses and apartment buildings that are rapidly changing like the rest of the city. It is funny to walk down these blocks months later to see buildings under scaffolding or businesses that were once a part of the neighborhood for years suddenly disappear.

This is why Park Avenue is so nice. It never really changes. Dominated by pre-war and/or Victorian apartment buildings, it still has the look and feel that it did in the 30’s although there is a lot more money here now than then. Here and there is an old mansion or a small shop and I have found it home to three small but interesting museum’s and galleries.

At Park Avenue & 66th Street is the front part of the Park Avenue ‘Seventh Regiment Armory”. Built in the Gothic style by architect Charles Clinton in 1880, you can see the real detail of the building on the Park Avenue side. The former home of the Seventh Regiment it is now the home of the performing center.

The Americas Society Gallery at 680 Park Avenue is a unique and small little gallery located in the Spanish Institute. There was an interesting exhibition “The Metropolis in Latin America 1830-1930” on the development of cities in Latin America that was very interesting. Another museum/gallery next door to that is Italian Cultural Institute at 686 Park Avenue, who has the tiny ‘Museo Canova’ with the works of Italian artist Antonio Canova.

His “The Tempera Paintings of Possagno” was cataloged in 1817 and reference is made to those paintings depicting “various dance moves, frolics between nymphs and lovers, muses and philosophers, drawn for the artist’s personal knowledge and delight.” (Museo Canova pamphlet). They were interesting little paintings of nymphs and little angels dancing around each other.

The Americas Society and Spanish Institute is housed in the former Percy Rivington Pyne home that was built between 1909-1911 by McKim, Mead & White. Mr. Pyne was a director of the First National City Bank of New York and the founders grandson.  The other part of the Institute is the former home of Oliver D. Filley  (husband of Mary Pyne Filley, Percy Rivington Pyne’s daughter).

Americas Society

Americas Society

Italian Cultural Institute at 684 Park Avenue is housed in the former home of Henry P. Davison, a financier that was designed by the firm of Walker & Gillette in 1917 in the Neo-Georgian style. All three of these homes were saved by Margaret Rockefeller Strong de Larram, Marquesa de Cuevas in 1965 and all three of these homes (now Institutes) were designated as a New York City landmark by the New York City Landmark Preservation Commission on November 10, 1970. Take time to look at the plaques attached to the three buildings and the architecture of the homes. It forms one of the last intact architectural ensembles on Park Avenue (Wiki).

Further up Park Avenue is the Asian Society and Museum at 725 Park Avenue which was founded by John D. Rockefeller III in 1956 with a vision,  to create an institute that would build bridges of understanding between the United States and Asia (Asian Society pamphlet). The museum houses the collection of John D. Rockefeller III on the third floor along with an exhibition of local children’s art and their interpretation of Asian Art. The bottom level houses a well-received restaurant and gift shop. It is an interesting exhibition on Hindu and Buddhist Art.

Asia Society.jpg

Asian Society

Madison Avenue also offers a wide array of interesting architecture and retail stores. At the very top of Madison Avenue is the home of the main store of Ralph Lauren, which is housed in the former Gertrude Rhinelander Waldo Mansion. The home was built by the old money heiress between 1893-1898 designed by Kimball & Thompson in the French Renaissance revival design. It has been leased by Ralph Lauren since 1983, whose company redesigned it as a retail store. This is a store that proves that the ‘brick & mortar’ store is not dead with its elegant displays of merchandise.

Rhinelander mansion.jpg

Rhinelander Mansion-Ralph Lauren Store

Madison Avenue from East 72nd Street to 59th Street is really an Avenue of extremes. Just like the uptown blocks from East 72nd to East 96th Streets is full of extremely expensive but always empty looking stores. More and more of the store fronts are empty as even the raising rents are affecting this area of the city as well. Still it is a great Avenue to window shop.

Still you will find a collection of top American and European upscale shops that cater to that ‘certain’ customer. Needless to say, this part of Madison Avenue I never notice that busy and late at night the Avenue is practically barren.

One stand out on the Avenue is the St. James Church at 865 Madison Avenue near the Ralph Lauren store. This graceful and beautiful Episcopalian church was built 1810-1883 in various locations until in 1884, the present church designed by Robert H. Robertson was designed and built to open in 1885 in the Romanesque style. It has been added onto since the church has been built. Look at the graceful details around the church when you pass by.

I reached the top of Fifth Avenue that evening and was totally pooped! It was 8:20pm and starting to get dark. I just wanted to get back home at that point. I don’t where I garnered the energy but I walked from Fifth Avenue and East 72nd Street to Port Authority at West 42nd Street and collapsed on the bus ride home.

On the 25th of May, I started my day at the Soup Kitchen again lucking out at a somewhat quiet day working on the Bread Station. We did not get any donations of sweets or desserts so it was just bread today and we were able to butter away.

I walked up Sixth Avenue to the Museum of Modern Art to pick up tickets for the museum’s restoration of the movie, “Rosita” with Mary Pickford. This silent film had been all but lost until a print was found in Germany. Most of Mary Pickford’s films were destroyed by the actress herself who I had once read in biography that she did not want to see herself in old films. Pity, she would have been thrilled to see the theater was packed to the gills and they were turning people away.

I had lunch at Halal Guys food cart on the corner of Sixth Avenue and West 53nd Street. I have been coming here for years and the lines for their food always keep increasing (See review on TripAdvisor and DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com). I had on of their combo sandwiches ($6.00), which is loaded with chopped chicken and gyro meat on a soft pita bread. It is so good and I highly recommend it when visiting the MoMA. It is nice to have a sandwich or one of their platters and just sit by the stone benches by the CBS Building and watch the world go by.

I started my walk of the Upper East Side with a walk through Central Park. On the way to the pathway into the park, I noticed a rather weird sculpture by British Nigerian artist Yinka Shonibane entitled “The Wind Sculpture”. The artist created this sculpture to replace a more radical sculpture that had been taken down. The theme behind the piece is tolerance and highlights global migration (The Guardian).

As you pass the Batik colored sculpture, you will enter the walk way to Central Park Zoo, one of the biggest tourist spots for kids in the City. The Zoo, which is now part of the Wildlife Conservatory, has been part of Central Park since the 1860’s and then was renovated again in 1934. The current park was designed in 1984 and was reopened in 1988.

Wind Sculpture.jpeg

The Wind Sculpture

Like the rest of Central Park in the 1970’s and 80’s, the place got run down. Now it is more open and naturalistic to the animals home environment. Don’t miss the seal tanks and the penguin room as I find those the most interesting to visit. Try to get to the seal feeding at 2:00pm when the seals are not too tired of looking at tourists. The gardens are nice along the perimeter of the zoo to just sit and relax on a warm sunny day.

One thing not to miss is the Delacorte Clock just outside of the park. Every half hour, the clock chimes and all the animals do a dance routine. It starts with two monkey’s hitting the bell and then the animals dance around the clock. There is an elephant, goat, bear, kangaroo, penguin and hippo that dance to songs like “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” and 24 other children’s songs. The clock was a gift from philanthropist George  T. Delacorte, who also donated to the park the “Alice in Wonderland” statue and the Delacorte Theater. It was designed by artist Fernando Texidor in partnership of architect Edward Coe Embury  and was dedicated in 1965 to Central Park. Try to get to the park to hear the songs and watch the animals dance.

Delacorte Clock.jpg

Delacorte Clock

I also took my first tour of the Tisch Children’s Zoo right next to the main zoo and this rather more mellow counterpart is more for younger children to see and pet smaller animals. Part of the original park, Lawrence Tisch saw to the renovations and it reopened in 1997. This is a great place for the under 12 crowd.

Between the late night ambulance calls and the work in the Soup Kitchen and the long walks the days before, I relaxed on a grassy knoll in the park near the Fifth Avenue entrance off East 66th Street. I just fell asleep next to a bunch of other people who also were falling asleep in the park. On a warm, sunny day under a shade tree, there is nothing like it. It is so relaxing to just look up at the trees and the sunshine and not believing you are still in the middle of a busy city. I can’t believe this is the same park of the 80’s when you didn’t dare enter. Just don’t do this late at night.

I walked up and around Fifth Avenue to East 72nd Street and walked back down on the park side. There are two interesting statues to take time to see. At Fifth Avenue and East 70th Street is the memorial to architect Robert Morris Hunt. Unveiled in 1893, this memorial was designed by Daniel Chester French, who was the sculptor of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington DC. Robert Morris Hunt designed some of the most prominent mansions during the ‘Gilded Age” and whose work is still a part of the New York City landscape.

The other sculpture is the memorial to the One Hundredth & Seventh Infantry at Fifth Avenue and East 67th Street. This memorial was designed by sculptor Carl Illava and was dedicated in 1927 to the City. It is in memory of the Seventh Regiment New York One Hundred and Seventh Infantry and you again can see the Armory on Park Avenue down the block.

Richard Morris Hunt.jpg

Richard Morris Hunt Memorial Central Park

Across the street from the Robert Morris Hunt Sculpture is the Frick Collection housed in the former home of industrialist Henry Clay Frick. The mansion is one of the last intact surviving “Gilded Age” mansions left on Fifth Avenue. It was designed by architect Thomas Hastings of Carrere & Hastings between 1912-1914 and was lived in by the family until Mrs. Frick’s death in 1931. The house and all its artwork was willed as a museum and since that time, it has been expanded to add a research library and now has travelling collections on top of their permanent collection that contains many “Old Masters”.

I set out to see the new “George Washington” exhibition on the creation of the statue for the Virginia State Capital that was destroyed by fire in the last century. All of the models and drawings were accompanying the display to see how the work was created. After that, I just walked through the galleries to see all the paintings and sit by the fountain in the middle of the old house. The weather got to me and I left the City right after visiting the museum.

I finished my walk of this part of the neighborhood after another day in the Soup Kitchen on May 30th. I was lucky that there were so many people at the Soup Kitchen volunteering that I got put on the Spoon station wrapping spoons. I needed that after the week of walking around that I did.

There was a restaurant I wanted to try for lunch that I had passed when walking around First Avenue earlier in the visit, New Wong Asian Food Inc. at 1217 First Avenue between East 65th and 66th Streets (See review on TripAdvisor). This little Chinese ‘hole in the wall’ caters alot to the Memorial Sloan Kettering Hospital crowd and seeing the lunch in front of one of the hospital workers, I order the same thing, the General Tso’s Chicken lunch special with fried rice ($7.85).

I thought it was a little to American even for me. It was a large portion of tempura-like fried chicken pieces in a sauce that had not flavor to it. I mean none! It looked so good on the plate that I ordered it because of the worker and someone else ordered it because they saw it on my plate. It looked good but it was so over-fried and under spiced I would suggest not ordering it.

It was a sunny warm day and I decided to double back to see some of the sites I had passed earlier and visit some of the small museums and galleries, like the Asian Society at 725 Park Avenue, the Americas Society Gallery at 680 Park Avenue and the Museo Casnova at 686 Park Avenue. I also revisited some of the sites on Park, Madison and Fifth Avenues ended my day at Glaser’s Bake Shop at 1670 First Avenue (See many reviews on TripAdvisor and DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com). This meant that I had to try a few things like the Lemon Crumb Danish ($3.00) and the Kitchen Sink Stuffed Cookie ($3.50). After all that walking, I figured I could walk this all off.

My last part of the day before going home I just relaxed at Carl Schurz Park at East 84th Street. I just ate my dessert and walked the boats go by. On a warm sunny late afternoon, there is nothing like sitting in the park and watching the river traffic go by and people walk their dogs and kids play in the playground (See reviews in earlier blogs). Who says the Twitter generation does not have fun? I did not see many cellphones out while the kids were chasing one another around. By the way, they did finish that luxury building across the river in Queens next to the housing projects.

As I passed Park Avenue and East 72nd Street, I saw an unusual sculpture in the Park Avenue Mall by artist Tony Cragg made of fiberglass with the most unusual spirals called “Hammerhead 2017”. This British artist has been working with uses a form of mixed materials and is part of the “Art in the Park” program. Don’t miss this geometrical sculpture on the mall.

Tony Cragg Park Avenue statue.jpg

Tony Cragg Sculpture Park Avenue

I did walk from York Avenue and East 84th Street back to Port Authority on West 42nd Street. Along the way at the very edge of the neighborhood, there is the famous hotels, The Pierre at 2 61st Street, where I had once worked for a week in college in the sales department and the Sherry-Netherland at 781 Fifth Avenue. These start the upscale hotels and stores of Fifth Avenue until about East 50th Street. I was exhausted by the time I hit the East 59th Street.

Still it is an interesting neighborhood, loaded with small museums, parks, stores and public art. That’s why these entries are getting longer as there is so much more to see and so much more time to spend walking around.

Hey, I had to work off the Chinese meal, two pastries, two protein bars and three Cokes. I need to buy stock in Coca Cola.

 

 

Places to Eat:

Go Noodle

1069 First Avenue

New York, NY  10022

Phone: (212) 888-6366/5995

Fax: (212) 888-4244

http://www.gonoodleninemoon.com

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d4369518-Reviews-Go_Noodle-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

Halal Guys

Corner of Sixth Avenue & West 53nd Street

Located all over the city in carts and shopss

http://www.halalguys.com

Hours vary

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d3491934-Reviews-The_Halal_Guys-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

My review on DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com:

 

New Wong Asian Food Inc.

1217 First Avenue

New York, NY  10065

Phone: (212) 517-7798/7898 & Fax (212) 517-2988

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

My review on TripAdvisor:

 

Glaser’s Bake Shop

1670 First Avenue

New York, NY 10128

(212) 289-2652

Open: Closed Monday’s

Monday-Friday: 7:00am-7:00pm

Saturday: 8:00am-7:00pm/ Sunday: 8:00am-3:00pm

http://www.glaserbakeshop.com

(Now Closed)

 

Places to Visit:

24 Sycamore Trees Park

501 East 60th Street

New York, NY  10022

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

St. Catherine’s Park

1st Avenue between East 67th and East 68th Streets

New York, NY 10022

https://www.nycgovparks.org/parks/st-catherines-park

Carl Schurz Park

York Avenue and East 84th Street

New York, NY  10022

https://www.nycgovparks.org/parks/carl-schurz-park

Dylan’s Candy Bar

1011 Third Avenue

New York, NY  10065

(645) 735-0048

http://www.dylanscandybar.com

Monday-Thursday: 10:00am-9:00pm

Friday-Saturday: 10:00am-11:00pm

Sunday: 10:00am-9:00pm

https://www.dylanscandybar.com/

Bloomingdale’s

1000 Third Avenue

59th Street at Lexington Avenue

New York, NY 10065

http://www.bloomingdales.com

Monday-Thursday: 10:00am-8:30pm

Friday-Saturday: 10:00am-9:30pm

Sunday: 11:00am-9:00pm

https://www.bloomingdales.com/buy/new-york-city

Seventh Regiment Armory

643 Park Avenue

New York, NY 10065

(212) 696-3930

info@armoryatpark.org

https://www.snf.org/en/grants/grantees/s/seventh-regiment-armory-conservancy,-inc-(park-avenue-armory)/

The Frick Collection

One East 70th Street

New York, NY  10021

(212) 288-0700

Hours:

Sundays: 11:00am-5:00pm

Monday’s: Closed

Tuesday-Saturday: 10:00am-6:00pm

https://www.frick.org/

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

Museo Canova/Institute of Italian Culture

686 Park Avenue

New York, NY 10021

(212) 879-4242

Open: Monday-Friday: 8:00am-4:00pm/Closed Saturday and Sunday

http://www.iicnewyork.esteri.it/iic_newyork/en/

Americas Society

680 Park Avenue

New York, NY  10065

(212) 628-3200

http://www.as.coa.org

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

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g60763-d548518-Reviews-Americas_Society-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

My review on VisitingaMuseum:

https://wordpress.com/post/visitingamuseum.com/2144

Asian Society and Museum

725 Park Avenue

New York, NY 10021

(212) 288-6400

http://www.asiasociety.org

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 VistingaMuseum.com:

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

All the sculptures I mentioned all over the neighborhood are available to see all day long.