Tag Archives: Morris-Jumel Mansion

Day One Hundred and Thirty Seven ‘Happy Father’s Day’ Dad: In memory of my Father, Warren George Watrel June 16, 2019

I dedicate this blog with much love to my father, Warren George Watrel, who inspired this blog, “MywalkinManhattan.com”. I wanted to wish him a very ‘Happy Father’s Day’!

My dad was born in Williamsburg, Brooklyn and still considered himself a ‘Brooklynite’, even though he was raised  and lived in New Jersey for most of his life. He spent years visiting the City to see relatives and he worked on Park Avenue for several years after that.

Every Father’s Day after I moved back to New Jersey from Guam, we always spent the day roaming around the City visiting some park that I had read about, movie that I saw reviewed or exhibition at a museum that was being featured. We would cap the afternoon off at a restaurant that I would read about in the Village Voice.

Since his passing, I have my own routine on Father’s Day. I pay my respects to him in the morning and then I spend my afternoon doing something we would have done together. Adding to the museums and galleries that I have visited over the time in my project, “MywalkinManhattan”, I decided to visit the American Academy of Arts and Letters at West 155th Street on Broadway between 155th and 156th Streets. I wanted to see the new works by their member artists. Then I treated myself to lunch.

My morning was spent cutting flowers from our flower beds, which my dad had a lot of pride in and I made an amazing arrangement to take with me. While I was paying my respects, I ran into other families doing the same thing I was doing. The cemetery was as busy as a shopping mall with cars all over the place and flower arrangement and prayers being said. It is interesting to see how people respect their family members who have passed.

I was talking with a women whose grandparents were interned near my father and whose younger brother was interned in another part of the cemetery. Since the death of her brother, his family cut off relations with the rest of her family members. It is sad that I hear this story so many times. She seemed relieved to have someone to talk to about it. We had a nice chat about our families for about a half hour and it’s nice to talk to a stranger who understands.

After I paid my respects, my afternoon was spent at the American Academy of Arts & Letters for one of my other blogs, “VisitingaMuseum.com”. I had been wanting to visit the gallery for two years now and it was the last day of their exhibition ‘Ceremonial Exhibition: Work by New Members and Recipients of Awards”. It is hard to visit since they are only open four months out of the year.

I got into the City late so I got to spend the last hour and a half walking the exhibition. I had just walked the entire length of Broadway for my blog on Friday (Day One Hundred and Thirty Six Walking the length of Broadway) and saw that it would be open this Sunday. It was an interesting exhibition.

Some of the pieces in the gallery were a little political and one sided. I took it that the Academy was more  liberal leaning. Even so, it was nice to see what the artist had to say and their thoughts on current events.

One artist who stood out was artist Judith Bernstein whose works ‘Gold Quattro’, ‘Money Shot-Blue Balls’ and ‘Trump Genie’ wanted to portray what she thinks of the corruption and money grabbing currently in Washington DC. You have to really look at the work closely to see the sexual organs and their use in the paintings.

American Academy of Arts & Letters III.jpg

Artist Judith Bernstein’s work

Another set of works that stood out was ‘She-wolf’ by artist Francesca Dimattio, with it’s many components and color displays. The funny part was that she had a hand poking out of the butt. I was not sure how you would interpret that.

American Academy of Arts & Letters VI

‘She-wolf’ by Francesa Diamattio

After the museum closed for the afternoon, I walked over to the Morris-Jumel Mansion which had closed for the afternoon (See my reviews on TripAdvisor and VisitingaMuseum.com). Still it was nice to walk the gardens and look at the views of the river and beyond. I had toured the mansion several times and it is an interesting home with a fascinating past. The home was owned by Aaron Burr’s second wife, Madame Jumel, who herself had an interesting life.

morris-jumel mansion II.jpg

The Morris-Jumel Mansion

The formal gardens on the property are relaxing to visit in but could use a good weeding.

Morris-JUmel Mansion gardens.jpg

The Morris-Jumel Mansion gardens

After a visit around the neighborhood to see how gentrification is changing the neighborhood, I stopped to get something to eat. The Sugar Hill Cafe which I had wanted to try was closed for the afternoon so I went to Victorio’s Pizza at 348 West 145th Street (see review on Tripadvisor) by the SUNY campus. Their pizza is always wonderful. The sauce is so well spiced and tastes of fresh tomatoes and the cheese is really gooey.

After lunch, I just walked around this part of Harlem to see the changes and developments in the neighborhood. I had not visited this section of the City in about two years and it just keeps morphing. I walked from 145th Street to 125th Street and took the subway from there.

Every time I visit another part of New York City after a period of time, I am amazed how fast everything is moving from restaurants and shops closing to buildings either being torn down or renovated. The City never stops changing.

I enjoyed spending my Father’s Day doing something we both loved to do, exploring New York City and all the things it has to offer. I will never forget all the things that my father did for me and the support he offered me. I look back and realize the things I have done in my life because love and support and lack of judging me on it. I think it is important to let your kids make mistakes in life as it makes them stronger and more independent.

I was proud of my own father’s accomplishments even after he got sick and his determination to get better. He had progressed so well that I was able to take him to his 60th high school reunion in Florida and that was one of my proudest accomplishments. I was able to get him there and give him that moment in his life to see his old friends. That was all him and his hard work.

Dad's Reunion IV

My dad spending the afternoon with his old classmates.

Dad's Reunion V

My father conversing with his classmates

I dedicate this blog with much love and respect to my father, Warren, whose determination and hard work showed me that anything is possible. You just have to believe that things will get better.

Happy Father’s Day, Dad!!

 

Places to Visit Uptown:

 

American Academy of Arts and Letters

633 West 155th Street

New York, NY 10032

(212) 368-5900

https://artsandletters.org/

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g60763-d548512-Reviews-American_Academy_of_Arts_and_Letters-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

My review on VisitingaMuseum.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/visitingamuseum.com/2165

 

Morris-Jumel Mansion

65 Jumel Terrace

New York, NY  10032

(212) 923-8008

https://www.morrisjumel.org/

Open: Closed Monday/Tuesday-Friday 10:00am-4:00pm/Saturday and Sunday 10:00am-5:00pm

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g60763-d103500-Reviews-Morris_Jumel_Mansion-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

My review on VisitingaMuseum.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/visitingamuseum.com/252

 

Places to Eat Uptown:

 

Victorio’s Pizzeria

348 East 145th Street

New York, NY  10039

(212) 283-2100

https://victoriospizzaplus.nyc/

Open: Sunday-Saturday 11:00am-8:45pm

My review on TripAdvisor:

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

 

 

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Day Thirty-Six: January 16, 2016 Morris-Jumel Mansion/Little Red Lighthouse

Before I could finish my walk of Washington Heights, there were a few sights I wanted to see before it got too cold. So on a mild but brisk afternoon after a long morning in the Soup Kitchen, I visited the Little Red Lighthouse and the Morris-Jumel Mansion. I missed seeing these spots during the summer.

My first part of the trip lead me to 181st Street and the long walk down the street to Riverside Park. I was amazed of how beautiful 181st Street is at all seasons. It is still breathtaking in the winter as it is during the summer except you can see more. You could view more of the formations on the riverside cliffs at this time of the year.

Even in the short time since the summer ended, there have been many changes in the neighborhood. More buildings are under scaffolding and being sandblasted. A lot of storefronts are empty and the mom and pop businesses that I passed over the summer have closed their doors showing that the neighborhood is in transition. Slowly more expensive restaurants and shops are opening east of Broadway.

The walk down the path through Riverside Park is quite steep so make sure that you have comfortable shoes on and do your best to avoid the bike riders who speed by. At the end of the path, turn the corner and you will see the small lighthouse hidden behind a leg of the bridge.

It is rather unusual spot for a lighthouse but it has a rather colorful past. Located underneath the George Washington Bridge along this treacherous section of the Hudson River once known as Jeffrey’s Hook, this is one of the few surviving lighthouses in New York City.

As traffic increased along the Hudson River, so did the number of shipwrecks at Jeffery’s Hook. In an attempt to reduce accidents, a red pole was placed at Jeffery’s Hook jutting out over the river to warn travelers of danger. In 1889, two 10-candlepower lanterns were placed on the pole to aid navigation. Much of the land surrounding the lighthouse, including the riverbanks of Jeffery’s Hook, was acquired by the City in 1896 and became known as Fort Washington Park.

The Little Red Lighthouse had been erected on Sandy Hook, New Jersey in 1880, where it used a 1000 pound fog signal and flashing red light to guide ships through the night. It became obsolete and was dismantled in 1917. In 1921, the U.S. Coast Guard reconstructed this lighthouse on Jeffery’s Hook in an attempt to improve navigational aids on the Hudson River. Run by a part-time keeper and furnished with a battery-powered lamp and a fog bell, the lighthouse was an important guide to river travelers for ten years. The George Washington Bridge opened in 1931 and the brighter lights of the bridge again made the lighthouse obsolete.

Little Red Lighthouse.jpg

The Little Red Lighthouse

The Coast Guide planned to auction off the lighthouse but an outpouring of support for the beacon helped save it. The outcry from the public was prompted by the children’s book, ‘The Little Red Lighthouse and the Great Gray Bridge’, written by Hildegarde Swift and Lynd Ward in 1942. In the popular book, the Little Red Lighthouse is happy and content until the great bridge is build over it. In the end, the lighthouse learns that it still has an important job to do and that there is still a place in the world for an old lighthouse. People then sent money to save the icon from the auction block.

In 1951, the Coast Guard gave the property to the parks and in 1979 it was added to the National Register of Historical Places.

(New York City Department of Parks & Recreation)

It is a neat little park under the bridge and should not be missed when visiting this part of Riverside Park.

Instead of climbing back up the long path, I took a stroll down the paths of Riverside Park and walked by the river that was so close that you could put your hand into it (don’t!). It was a beautiful walk to be so close to the river and see the vistas of the cliffs of New Jersey and view the river both up and down stream. On this cool winter day, the park had a few joggers but not too many other people.

My walk took me back to 160th Street and the cross bridge that took me back to the neighborhood that I had visited earlier this summer. This extension of Riverside Drive leads back to Broadway and I crossed back up to 161st Street to my destination of the Morris-Jumel Mansion located in Jumel Terrace right off High Bridge Park.

I made a pit stop for a snack at Esmeraldo Bakery on Broadway at 538 West 181st Street (see review on TripAdvisor) for their Cubanitos, a sweet meat pie and Rellenas, a mashed potato meat pie that are deep-fried. They are so good and at 2 small cubanitos for $1.00 and the Rellena for $1.25, it is quite a steal. Their doughnuts are really good as well. They are also $1.00. The staff always tolerates my broken Spanish.

Esmeraldo Bakery

Esmeraldo Bakery 538 181st Street

Jumel Terrace which is located between 162nd Street and 160th Streets located on a buff overlooking the Harlem River on its own park like setting with great views of both the Bronx and other parts of Manhattan. It is surrounded by a neighborhood of beautiful renovated brownstones, some still having their lights and decorations up from the holiday. It must have been beautifully decorated for Christmas.

The Morris-Jumel Mansion, located at 65 Jumel Terrace, is the long surviving Colonial residence left in Manhattan. The mansion was built as a summer ‘villa’ in 1795 by the British Colonel Roger Morris and his American wife Mary Philipse, it originally commanded extensive views in all directions. It viewed New York harbor and Staten Island to the south; of the Hudson and Harlem rivers to the west and east and of Westchester county to the north.

morris-jumel mansion

Morris-Jumel Mansion

Colonel Morris was the son of the famous architect Roger Morris, a fact which may explain the extremely innovative features of the mansion such as the gigantic portico and the rear wing which was the first octagon built in the colonies.

The house’s situation and large size made it ideal as military headquarters during the Revolution and it was occupied successively by Washington, General Sir Henry Clinton and the Hessian General Baron von Knyphausen. As the Morrises were loyal to Britain during the Revolution, their property was seized and sold after its conclusion. In 1790, Washington returned for a cabinet dinner at which he entertained Jefferson, Adams, Madison, Hamilton and Colonel Knox among others.

The later history of the house centers on the Jumel’s. Stephen Jumel was a wealthy French émigré who married in 1804 his beautiful and brilliant mistress, Eliza Brown. They bought the mansion in 1810. In 1815, they sailed to France and offered Napoleon safe passage to New York after Waterloo. Although he eventually declined the offer, they did acquire from his family many important Napoleonic relics, some of which can be seen in the Blue Room on the second floor. Stephen died in 1832 and Eliza married the ex-Vice-President Aaron Burr in the front parlor one year later. They were in the process of a divorce a few years later when he died on the day the divorce was finalized. On Eliza death in 1865, she was considered one of the wealthiest women in America.

(Morris-Jumel Mansion welcome Guide)

The house tour is self-guided and you are able to walk all around the first and second floors as well as the kitchen in the basement. The mansion had just finished having all the holiday decorations packed up for the season so the mansion was in a little disarray. The kitchen is really interesting with all the period cooking tools in which we take the electronic ones so much for granted today. The antique waffle iron is really interesting.

The upstairs bedrooms have been restored and you get to see where Aaron Burr slept. Eliza had adopted her niece and she became Eliza’s daughter and her children her grandchildren, which by the painting in the house she must have been very fond of growing up.

In the summer months, the gardens are really nice to walk around in and are nicely landscaped. On a cool winter afternoon, it was nice to sit outside but there was not much to see. The mansion is definitely best either during the holidays or in the warmer months.

It was nice to visit these sites as I missed them most of the summer and both are worth checking out. If you need to have dinner before leaving the neighborhood, Broadway is lined with many interesting Dominican restaurants that are reasonable and have nice menu’s.

Places to Visit:

Morris-Jumel Mansion

65 Jumel Terrace

New York, NY  10032

(212) 923-8008

http://www.morrisjumel.org/

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g60763-d103500-Reviews-Morris_Jumel_Mansion-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

My review on my blog, “VisitingaMuseum.com”:

https://wordpress.com/post/visitingamuseum.com/252

Little Red Lighthouse

Fort Washington Park

Hudson River Greenway

New York, NY  10032

https://www.nycgovparks.org/parks/fort-washington-park/highlights/11044

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g60763-d2368581-Reviews-Little_Red_Lighthouse-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

My review on my blog, “VisitingaMuseum.com”:

https://wordpress.com/post/visitingamuseum.com/300

Places to Eat:

Esmeraldo Bakery

538 West 18st Street

New York, NY  10033

(212) 543-2250

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d5098947-Reviews-Esmeraldo_Bakery-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

Day Nineteen: Walking the West Side of Broadway Washington Heights October 19th, 2015

I never realized that walking around Washington Heights would take so long but there is a little secret to the neighborhood. It isn’t flat! I have never walked up and down so many hills. This part of the island reminds you that hills and rock formations still exist on the island of Manhattan. You just don’t see them that much in Midtown.

I started my day just getting into New York City. The buses run so funny in the morning. Then it was a grueling day at the Soup Kitchen that I volunteer at some mornings when I am in the city. Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen was buzzing away today with a chicken curry entrée that had people coming back for thirds and fourths and we did not close until almost 12:40pm. Then it was the trip uptown. It does take a while to get to that part of Manhattan and as usual there were a lot of surprises that awaited.

When you get out of the A Train at 190th Street, the tunnel leading to the street on both sides has the most colorful street art on all the walls. Really take your time to look at the ‘tag’ work. This is now considered an art form in the city (as long as it does not disrupt or damage property) and you really have to look at the fringe neighborhoods, like Red Hook and Bushwick, for the inspirations. This tunnel shows a colorful display of street art that is actually allowed in the station and look to both walls and ceiling for the creative juices of many of these artists. The work is just amazing with colorful symbols and letter adorning the entire tunnel on the way out.

191th Subway Station.jpg

191st Subway Station is ever changing.

My walk today consisted of the entire lengths of the avenues in eastern Washington Heights. I walked the entire lengths of both Audubon Avenue and St. Nicholas Avenue and covered almost all of Amsterdam Avenue having to finally stop at 181 Street because it was getting dark and my feet were killing me. I walked both sides of the avenues from the tip of the neighborhood at 192nd Street to the border of the neighborhood at 155th Street. Needless to say, it was a long trip.

190th Subway

190th Street Subway Station

Audubon Avenue is more residential with many pre-war buildings that are in the middle of renovations or have already been renovation. St. Nicolas Avenue is more commercial with small businesses and street vendors filling up most of the storefronts along the avenue.

My first stop was Esmeraldo Bakery at 538 West 181st Street, a small hole in the wall bakery that offers an array of sweets and hot snacks. I enjoyed a beef and rice croquet, which are well-known in many of the Dominican bakeries I have visited in Washington Heights and a large twisted cinnamon sugar doughnut, which was a messy, sugary delight. For the price of $2.00, this gem of a bakery is a reasonable place to fill up on carbs for the long walk around the neighborhood. The service is super friendly and they speak both English and Spanish. Their selection is really good and take a few extras along the way.

Audubon Avenue offers some beautiful pre-war apartment buildings, many of which like the rest of the neighborhood are in the process of renovation. A lot of this neighborhood is under scaffolding. There are unique brownstones and townhouses to view on the way down the street in between the buildings. Yeshiva University sits in the low 180’s and this area during the day is dominated by college students and professors, who are milling around between classes and a lot of the businesses in the area cater to this population with many nice restaurants and stores. When classes let out in the evening, you are on a very business campus and would not know that you are still in Washington Heights.

Audubon Avenue stops at 165th Street to merge into St. Nicholas Avenue and a very busy shopping area. At the merger of St. Nicholas and Amsterdam Avenues, you walk past the C-Town grocery store to find the Sylvan Terrace, which is 20 identical homes that were once part of the entrance to the Morris-Jumel Mansion, once home to Aaron Burr’s second wife, Eliza Jumel.

Sylvan Terrace was built in 1882 and was once part of the original Old Post Road from New York to Boston. The homes that now surround the street were built by James E. Ray between 1890 and 1902. The architect was influenced by the Queen Anne, Romanesque and Renaissance Revival influences and the homes are built with the Queen Ann style in mind (IloveWashingtonHeights.com).

These homes have been painfully restored back to their true glory and rumored to be going for about a million each. Their uniform painting and beautiful cobblestone streets leading to the mansion seem totally out-of-place with the rest of the neighborhood. So climb the stairs and enjoy the walk down the street. This pathway was once part of the East Post Road that lead to Boston.

Sylvan Terrace and Morris-Jumel Mansion

Sylvan Terrace

At the end of the block is the Morris-Jumel Mansion (see review on TripAdvisor & VisitingaMuseum.com), which was unfortunately closed the day I was there but I got to walk the ground and sit in the mansion’s colorful garden that had yet to give way to the fall season. There was still a bit of summer left in that afternoon and it was nice to enjoy it walking the flowery paths and stone benches. It has a great view of the river and the neighborhood below as this area was once the summer and weekend homes of the wealthy downtown when upper Manhattan was still considered the ‘wilderness’. Another version of this you can see at the Gracie Mansion in the 90’s which I will also see in the future.

morris-jumel mansion

Morris-Jumel Mansion

Take some time to stroll these paths and then walk around the Jumel Terrace Historical District, which is lined with turn of the last century apartment buildings and classic brownstones that are starting to be decorated for Halloween. They have a classic Edith Wharton look to them. This neighborhood is an oasis for the rest of the area and is tucked into this small three block radius. I took some time to really see how everyone had renovated their homes.

Morris-Jumel Historic District

Morris-Jumel Historic District

As you walk out of the Historical district, at 157th Street, you end up in a dead-end street with the picturesque Bushman Steps, a staircase that leads to Edgecombe Avenue and the very edge of High Bridge Park. On a sunny afternoon, this little park offers much refuge to the warm afternoon and a beautiful view to boot. This pocket park really makes the street pop and gives it a feel of ‘Old New York’, lined with trees and flowers.

At the end of 155th Street and St. Nicholas Avenue, there is a series of unique brownstones at various stages of renovation. This row of brownstones are in various stages of renovation but like the rest of the area will be highly desirable in the future. These homes really stick out amongst the more modern buildings. My goal to 155th Street was complete as another more modern building is on the other side of 155th Street showing that many changes are happening in this area.

On the way back up St. Nicholas Avenue to the other side of Audubon Avenue, the schools were letting out and students and parents alike to converging to the bakeries and fast food restaurants that line the area. My next stop was at El Manantial Bakery at 325 St. Nicholas Avenue (see review on TripAdvisor) for pastilitos  and a guava empanada. The pastilitos were filled with both chicken and beef and the guava empanada was filled with a guava jelly that all were really good. The pastilitos had just been fried and they had that juicy greasiness that something gets right out of the fryer. Make sure to order the beef ones. You will need a snack by this point. I only spend about $3.25 for two pastilitos, one pastry and a coke. Quite a steal!

The walk up and down St. Nicholas you will see one of the most active shopping districts that will compare to 207th and 181st Streets. So many things can be bought and sold on this avenue. Some of the most interesting street vendors are located between 180th to 187th Streets selling ices, pastilitos, fried pork, fried pastries, dolls, books, household appliances and even Christmas ornaments. People were out in droves when school let out and many children were begging their parents for a snack. This can be a very active Avenue with many interesting restaurants to try in the future. St. Nicholas Avenue buzzed with activity from one end of the avenue to the other, especially as you arrived back at the hospital point by 168th Street. Columbia Presbyterian is taking over all the blocks at this location, changing the demographics and buildings.

My last part of the walk took me up and down the Amsterdam Avenue, which as it gets dark can get quite gloomy with its industrial feel to it. Parts of the it by High Bridge Park both by Fort George Avenue and between 181st and 170th Streets can be pretty, for the most part gentrification has left this part of the neighborhood alone.

By the time I rounded 155th Street and arrived at 181st, it was starting to get dark and my feet and legs were ready to give out. Even the snacks did not help as I started to get hungry and with the dark started to come the fall cold nights. I have a lot more to walk in this neighborhood but just as much to explore.

Places to Visit”

High Bridge Park

Washington Heights, NYC

 

Sylvan Terrace Houses

Washington Heights, NYC

 

Morris-Jumel Mansion & Historic District

65 Jumel Terrace

Washington Heights, NY 10033

(212) 923-8008

http://www.morrisjumel.org/

http://www.morrisjumel.org/briefhistory/

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g60763-d103500-Reviews-Morris_Jumel_Mansion-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

My review on VisitingaMuseum.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/visitingamuseum.com/252

 

Places to Eat:

 

Esmeraldo Bakery

538 West 181 Street

New York, NY  10033

(212) 543-2250

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d5098947-Reviews-Esmeraldo_Bakery-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

 

El Manantial Bakery

1220 Saint Nichols Avenue

New York, NY  10033

(212) 795-0055

Open: Sunday-Saturday 5:30am-9:30pm

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d4987781-Reviews-El_Manantial_Bakery-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905