Tag Archives: Professor Justin Watrel

Bronx Zoo Light Show

Day One Hundred and Eighty-Eight: My Christmas during the era of COVID December 1st-January 10th, 2020-2021

Well, Christmas is finally officially over for me. It was one for the books. The holiday season just came and went without much fanfare or activities. Nothing like last year which was a lot of running around visiting decorated homes or running to the next cocktail party or dinner. Those things just did not exist this year. This season was all about the outside walking tours and small get togethers.

The whole holiday season became a blur and I started to attend a lot of outdoor activities that became available. Anything to get out of the house and see people or go do something out of the ordinary. I really had to search things out.

They started closest to home. I was trying to split my time between places that were just a drive away, going back and forth to the Hudson River Valley, which gave me a change of scenery and walking the neighborhoods of Manhattan, which gave me a sense of purpose as I felt I was supporting the City by being a cheerleader for all it had to offer even in the era of COVID.

My holiday journey started with the delivery of 375 Christmas trees for the Hasbrouck Heights Men’s Association. It was a big undertaking for a major charity that supports graduating high school seniors with scholarship money for college. I sometimes wonder if these students know what we go through to get the funds.

Christmas Tree sales

The trees were really nice this year

I have never seen so many Christmas Trees fly off a lot so fast. The membership of the Men’s Association got there at 9:00am and the truck arrived at 10:15am. We sold our first tree at 11:30am as we were tagging them. I stayed the entire day from 9:00am to 10:00pm when we closed the lot down for the evening. In the three shifts that I was there with the other guys, we sold 45 trees which we have never done our first day of sales.

The Hasbrouck Heights Men’s Association at set-up 2020

We were completely sold out by December 11th which I have never seen before. It seemed in the era of COVID everyone reverted back to the 1970’s and wanted a fresh Christmas tree for their home. I thought this was wonderful and people could not have been more supportive to our organization.

Please read my blog on “Christmas tree sales in Hasbrouck Heights, NJ”:

https://wordpress.com/post/mywalkinmanhattan.com/15853

Please watch the commercial I did in 2015 to sell our trees

The first week of December means “Open Houses” at some of our merchants in Downtown Hasbrouck Heights. I look forward to seeing all the Christmas merchandise being offered, all the bouquets created for the event and the beautiful Christmas windows that our florists in town have done.

Bill O'Shea's Florist & Gifts

Bill O’Shea’s Florist & Gift at 231 Boulevard

https://wordpress.com/post/littleshoponmainstreet.wordpress.com/151

Bill O’Shea’s Florist at 231 Boulevard in Hasbrouck Heights, NJ always has a nice gathering the weekend before Thanksgiving. This year was like no other but it did not keep a nice crowd of residents from coming out and looking over ideas for floral displays, house decorating ideas and listening to festive holiday music all while nibbling on prepackaged treats and bottled drinks.

Bill O'Shea's Florist VIII

Bill O’Shea’s has some of the nicest displays at the holidays

In a normal year, it would be hot chocolate and coffee with freshly baked goods but COVID has changed the way these businesses are run. Everything had to be prepackaged and most people at it outside as juggling and shopping with a mask on was tough.

The weekend after Thanksgiving, the same weekend we set up the Christmas Tree lot for the Men’s Association, Heights Flower Shoppe at 209 Boulevard in Hasbrouck Heights, NJ had their Open House and that was equally as nice.

Heights Flowers IV

Heights Flower Shoppe at 209 Boulevard

https://wordpress.com/post/littleshoponmainstreet.wordpress.com/130

Heights Flower Shoppe is housed in a turn of the last century home that dates back to the original founding of our downtown and has a very classic boutique look to it. The store was stocked with all sorts of Christmas decorations, homemade candies, decorative household gifts and beautiful floral displays as well as outside had decorated wreathes and grave blankets.

Heights Flowers V

The homemade candies and Christmas decorations adorn the store

Like Bill O’Shea’s, there was all sorts of packaged holiday treats to enjoy including Italian sodas, small bags of homemade Christmas cookies and candies. Last year they had a nice assortment of cookies and small sandwiches with coffee, tea and punch so there are always holiday treats to nibble on too here as well.

All of Downtown Hasbrouck Heights was beautifully decorated for the holidays with wreaths on all our lamp posts, Christmas lights on the trees, merchants display windows decorated to the hilt and Christmas music playing.

Downtown Hasbrouck Heights, NJ

Downtown Hasbrouck Heights, NJ is always so nicely decorated for the holidays

This year because of COVID, the Annual Holiday Parade and Christmas Tree Lighting were cancelled in town but they did have a small get together at the Circle in Hasbrouck Heights to light the town Christmas tree. It was lit from Thanksgiving until the Epiphany on January 6th. It is always a beautiful site when entering town from the west side of town.

The Circle at Hasbrouck Heights

The Christmas Tree on the Circle in Hasbrouck Heights, NJ

Even the little Neil Parrot playhouse, a local landmark in Hasbrouck Heights, was decorated for the holidays and was lite up at night as well.

The Neil Parrot Playhouse on the Circle in Hasbrouck Heights awaiting Santa

There were several nights of my aunt and I exploring the town and driving block by block to see all the decorated homes. Hasbrouck Heights and the surrounding towns of Lodi and Wood Ridge always do a wonderful job decorating for the holidays but with everyone being home and COVID hitting the area hard, people wanted to really decorate and make this year even more festive. Between the merchants and home owners, they made this time of year in Hasbrouck Heights very festive.

Please read my blog on Visiting Downtown Hasbrouck Heights, NJ:

https://wordpress.com/post/mywalkinmanhattan.com/14025

I did not just celebrate Christmas in Hasbrouck Heights. I ventured into other parts of New Jersey, to New York City and my usual haunts in the Hudson River Valley but like New Jersey, New York State was on a lock down as well and all the decorated mansions and holiday gatherings were all cancelled as well. So everyone did their best to celebrate outdoors and have all sorts of tours and small get togethers. You had to move fast when reserving these events as they did fill up because everyone wanted to get out of the house and see things.

The Sinterklaas Parade that I have participated and volunteered at for so many years was cancelled because of COVID but like the Halloween Parade, the committee put together a video of the parade to share with the world. Still it did not compare to the excitement of walking down the hill with stars and music lighting up Downtown Rhinebeck, NY.

The noble Frog was to be our mascot for this year’s Sinterklaas Parade

It was not the same as the year before where the crowds kept getting larger and larger every year. The whole town came to life with activities, songs, lights and laughter but was silent that weekend except for people having dinner in town. I was able to sneak up during the week. The entire town was decorated with white lights and beautifully decorated store windows. Rhinebeck is one of those towns in the Hudson River Valley that looks straight out of a Currier & Ives woodcut.

Downtown Rhinebeck, NY at Christmas

Since all the Christmas parties and get togethers were cancelled, it gave me more time to look into other outdoor events. I went to a special “Historical walking tour at the Holidays” at the Bergen County Historical Society in River Edge, NJ. The tour was lead by Historical singer and lecturer, Linda Russell, who explained the traditions of the Dutch Christmas all while singing Colonial Christmas songs in between the talks at each historical house on the property.

Steuben House BCHS

The Steuben House at Christmas

Actors dressed in costumes (and masks of course-COVID is still going on) danced in the Steuben House ballroom as colonialists celebrating the holiday, Dutch housewives putting their children to bed while awaiting Sinterklaas. There was a Dutch wooden shoe with carrots for his horse outside the door and mistletoe on the ceiling.

Linda Russell Lecturer

Linda Russell performing and lecturing at the Bergen County Historical Society

There was a discussion on the Pagan traditions of bringing ‘greens’ from outside inside to have a bit of ‘live nature’ into the home. So mistletoe, pine and holly adorned homes during the winter months as these things were green and brought a bit of life into the dead of winter.

The last part of the lecture was done in front of the Campbell-Christie House with a visit from Sinterklaas himself. We had a short talk about who Sinterklaas was and his part in the holiday season. Then all the members of the tour enjoyed refreshments and got a goody bag when we left with holiday sweets. The lecture and songs were a nice way to enjoy the beginning of the holiday season.

Campbell-Christie House Xmas

Campbell-Christie House at the end of the tour:

My blog on The Bergen County Historical Society:

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

My favorite song by Linda Russell “I saw Three Ships”

As I was finishing up the semester at the College, I was getting holiday preparations done at the house, having small gatherings of family and friends and trying to be COVID safe. I was also running in and out of the City finishing my blog on Kips Bay before the holidays started getting busier. I learned a lot of New York’s Colonial past from walking around this area of the City.

My blogs on the Walking the neighborhood of Kips Bay:

https://wordpress.com/post/mywalkinmanhattan.com/15954

The next weekend I made my last trip of the season to Long Beach Island to visit Beach Haven and the tour the rest of the island one last time before winter set in. It had really closed down since Halloween. I expected it to be much busier with more people moving down there on a permanent basis. Driving up to the lighthouse, I saw more dark homes then lite ones.

I wanted to take one more tour of Long Beach Island to see how they celebrate Christmas at the shore. They do things very quietly in Beach Haven. I went to the Surflight Theater to see the only play I had seen since I attended Carnegie Hall last Christmas to see the play “We need a little Christmas” which I had seen advertised at the theater over the summer.

“We need a Little Christmas” at the Surflight Theater in Beach Haven, NJ

After the theater, it was surprisingly warm that afternoon hovering around 58 degrees so I walked to the beach one block away and walked on the Jersey shore for my only time that year and for the first time on Beach Haven beach since 1975. It has been a long journey since that time.

Beach Haven Beach

The Beach Haven beach was beautiful that afternoon

The town’s Christmas trees were across the street from the theater on the square just off the downtown. Even they had a subdued Christmas at the shore and the whole event welcoming in the season was done virtually.

Christmas in Beach Haven, NJ adapted like the rest of the world

My holiday dinner was spent at the Chicken or the Egg that evening and it was really good. The menu is so extensive and innovative. It was hard to make choices.

Cinnamon Bun Ice Cream Sandwich

Cinnamon Bun Ice Cream sandwich at Chicken or the Egg

Their fried chicken sandwiches are really good and their Cinnamon Roll Ice Cream sandwich should not be missed.

Chicken or the Egg

The Chicken or the Egg at 207 North Bay Avenue in Beach Haven

https://www.facebook.com/chegg609/

I was able to tour the whole island that afternoon before it got dark and even at twilight here and there were signs of Christmas in small trees lit in the shopping areas and decorated homes. It is an interesting place at the holidays with the waves crashing in the background.

My blog on “Exploring Downtown Beach Haven and Long Beach Island, NJ”:

https://wordpress.com/post/mywalkinmanhattan.com/15226

The next week was finals week at the College and I had to give my final exam. The students also finished work on their case study, “Bud N’ Mud”, a simulated flower/coffee shop I had the students develop. It was interesting to see how a group of student entrepreneurs would create a store with their own ideas on how to grow the business. This project ended the Fall semester.

Bud N' Mud logo

One of my favorite logo’s from the “Bud N’ Mud” project

My blog on the “Bud N’ Mud” project:

https://wordpress.com/post/mywalkinmanhattan.com/16124

With the Christmas trees selling out by December 11th, we held our annual Christmas party at the Christmas tree stand site for the Men’s Association. It was a cool not cold night and we all huddled around the fire taking alternate turns hitting the makeshift buffet table and enjoying good conversation. It was a great way to end the year successfully and there will lots of scholarships being given out at the end of the school year.

The last big event before Christmas came was the Sunday before Christmas with the Hasbrouck Heights Fire Department holding our Annual “Santa Around Town”. Because COVID was growing, the event was revamped from previous years and instead of stopping at sites all over town, we drove down each street in town slowly, having Santa wave and greet people who were on their lawns, driveways and porches. The residents of Hasbrouck Heights seemed touched by it and I could tell from the safety of the fire truck that the kids got a kick out of seeing Santa. People really needed the pick me up in holiday spirit at the time.

The Hasbrouck Heights Fire Department at “Santa Around Town” 2020

My blog on “Santa Around Town” 2020:

https://wordpress.com/post/mywalkinmanhattan.com/16150

On the Tuesday before Christmas after I finished work with my other job I needed a break and wanted to go on a road trip to the Hudson River Valley again. I was nostalgic for Christmas’s past and decided to visit some of the towns Upstate.

I explored Downtown Woodstock first seeing their very unusual Christmas tree in the square. I have to say one thing about Woodstock, they do pick out the most interesting tree to sit in the square. It always looks more surreal than traditional. Their annual “Santa Parade” was cancelled this year as well and they did a drive by with Santa at the Woodstock Fire Department who runs the parade.

Downtown Kingston, NY was next on the list. Talk about a town in transition. In the almost three years since I have been visiting Kingston, I have never seen a downtown change so rapidly. The businesses there have gone from all this ‘hippie granola’ businesses to all these antique furniture stores and art galleries and some really expensive restaurants. One of the locals told me the new residents are “Brooklynizing” Kingston.

Still the downtown was nicely lit for the holidays and their Christmas Tree while small is nicely lit for the holidays on the edge of the downtown “Stockade” district. The Dutch Reformed Church on the other end of downtown was nicely lit with wreaths on the doors.

I crossed the river and drove to Red Hook, NY which I love. Their downtown looks like an old fashioned shopping district straight out of another Currier & Ives print. All the little stores were decorated with garland and white lights and the merchants decorated their windows to the hilt.

My blog on Exploring Downtown Red Hook, NY:

https://wordpress.com/post/mywalkinmanhattan.com/14144

My last stop on my search for the perfect picturesque Hudson Valley River town was returning to Rhinebeck, NY for the day. Rhinebeck was quiet on this Tuesday evening as most of the restaurants were closed and the shops had closed for the evening. Still it was nice to walk around and admire the while lights on the trees and admire the display windows.

Downtown Rhinebeck, NY

The Christmas lights and windows of Downtown Rhinebeck, NY

Even the way I celebrate Christmas changed this year. Instead of spending time with my family, I spent three days in Manhattan with my best friend, Maricel, at a hotel in Times Square. Neither of us had the time to travel and we both had to work in the City, her at her hotel and me working on my blogs so both of us needed the rest.

AC Hote

AC Hotel New York Times Square at 260 West 40th Street

We stayed at the AC Hotel New York Times Square at 260 West 40th Street. What the room lacked in size, it made up in the view and in the location. We were one block from Port Authority, two blocks from Times Square and within walking distance from all the Christmas attractions from Saks Fifth Avenue’s Christmas windows and the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree.

While Maricel worked on Christmas Eve, I walked around the City. I saw the tree at Rockefeller Center which was loaded with people not keeping socially distanced. I admired the windows at Saks Fifth Avenue which had a New York City theme with Christmas scenes from around the City “This is how we Celebrate”.

Saks Fifth Avenue’s Christmas Themed window “Over the East River and Through the Neighborhoods to Grandfather’s House We Go”

Rockefeller

Rockefeller Center’s Christmas Tree was even more special this year

I thought the windows at Bloomingdale’s and Bergdorf-Goodman really lacked in creativity. Bloomingdale’s was having a bad year and Bergdorf’s had just gotten sold again (forth time since I worked there in 2004) so I did not expect much. With Lord & Taylor declaring bankruptcy earlier in the year and closing the main store on Fifth Avenue and B. Altman’s long gone and Macy’s going mechanical for the last few years, the excitement of seeing the windows has been less than enthusiastic.

Still it was nice to walk around Midtown after leaving the Rockefeller Center area and just walking around Third, Park and Madison Avenues. By 7:00pm, everything had shut down for the night and the streets were really quiet. What was eerie was when walking down Park Avenue and looking up and seeing so many dark buildings. The area looked abandoned with so many apartment lights out. I wondered where everyone went?

When Maricel got off work, I brought in dinner 9th Avenue Deli at 769 Ninth Avenue. I brought in a juicy cheeseburger and chicken fingers which we shared and then dug into. The perfect comfort food on a cool night. Christmas Eve was a mild 59 degrees and it was nice to walk around.

9th Avenue Deli

9th Avenue Deli at 769 9th Avenue

We just hung out the whole night and watched movies in the hotel room. I went to bed early and sunk into the wonderful Marriott hotel bed. Marriott had the best hotel beds and every time I stay at one of their hotels, I slept like a log.

Christmas Day we just relaxed in the room and I called many members of my family to wish them a Merry Christmas. While Maricel went to work, I decided to start touring neighborhoods like Kips Bay, Rose Hill and NoMAD in preparation in my walks there. It started out being a cold, cloudy day and there was barely anyone on the street. I saw a few people walking their dogs and that was about it until about 3:00pm. It them cleared up and was a mild 55 degrees until it got dark and then cooled down.

What really shocked me about Times Square was how dirty it was on the streets. They had not picked up the garbage on Christmas Eve day and did not pick it up until after Christmas Day so between the theaters being boarded up and the ply boards filled with graffiti, hotels closed and restaurants shut, the whole Theater district looked like NYC circa 1975. It was creepy how the pandemic was affecting the business of this neighborhood.

Neighborhoods like Kips Bay, Murray Hill, Rose Hill, NoMAD and the Flatiron District were really quiet that morning and early afternoon. All the restaurants and stores were dark, three hotels had closed in the district and I saw just a few people milling around. Things changed as I got closer to Macy’s Herald Square.

When walking around Koreatown, which runs between Sixth and Fifth Avenues between 35th to 32nd Streets, the side streets were teeming with Korean couples and groups of family members dining in the outdoor restaurants and cafes. This neighborhood was really jumping and full of life.

As the day wore on by 5:00pm, the rest of the City came back to life and more restaurants and stores opened up. Christmas morning and afternoon were now over and I could tell that people wanted to get out of the house (probably to get away from the family celebrations). When Maricel returned, I ordered in dinner from Golden City Chinese Restaurant at 423 Ninth Avenue, one of the few neighborhood restaurants open and we our dinner in the room. The food was okay. It was nice to just eat in the room and relax.

Christmas dinner was Lemon Chicken and Fried Rice from Golden City Chinese Restaurant

We checked out at noon on the 26th and she left for work that afternoon, I headed into Brooklyn to visit the Brooklyn Botanical Garden and the Brooklyn Museum. Both were really quiet that day. The Brooklyn Botanical Garden was mostly dormant for the winter and most of the garden was closed off because of COVID. The “Studio 54” exhibition had long closed at the Brooklyn Museum so I just wondered the halls and looked at some of the changes in the permanent exhibitions that they had. I left the City for home early that evening.

The last week of the holiday, I entertained family at a Lasagna and Champagne dinner I had a the house. Since I was not able to spend time at home during the holidays, my aunts came over to my house and we had a three course meal with champagne and wine. We spent the whole night laughing and enjoying the evening.

New Year’s Eve was a quiet evening at home alone talking with other friends who were staying home alone as well. Times Square was empty that evening with the exception of the 350 first responders who were invited to the ball drop. When I watched it on TV it was eerie to see it so quiet. There was no one for blocks except police guarding Times Square.

I headed back up to the Hudson River Valley again on New Year’s Day to go on two walking tours in Staatsburgh, NY at the Mills Mansion. It was the Annual “First of the Year” walking tours and it was a cool, crisp morning for a walking tour of the property. There were two tours that morning, one was on “Winter Activities in Victorian Times” with us learning about all the winter activities that the residents here enjoyed like skating , sledding, ice boating and horse drawn sleigh rides.

Staatsburgh, the Mills Mansion in the winter

The other tour later that afternoon was on “Ice Harvesting in the Hudson River Valley” , where we learned about how the ice harvesting of the Hudson River was a big business before the advent of refrigeration. Large slabs of ice were cut from the river, floated down stream and then packed in straw awaiting sale over the metropolitan area for peoples ice boxes throughout the year. It just gave me anther excuse to visit the region I love so much.

My blog on the Mills Mansion on VisitingaMuseum.com:

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

Another local event that was COVID safe was a driving tour through the “Holiday Lightshow” at Demarest Farms in Hillsdale, NJ. This was the first time that the farm opened the apple and peach orchard across the street from the farm stand. I saw this display the last week it was open and even after the holidays, it was a special treat as we awaited the Epiphany.

Driving through the display only took about forty minutes but was a delight in the senses and sounds. I played the classical music station as I drove through and admired all the colorful lights on the now dormant trees while Santa’s and Snowmen winked and waved and toy soldiers lit the way through the dark field. Even the Demarest homestead was ablaze with lights.

Demarest Farms Christmas

Demarest Farms at 244 Werimus Drive in Hillsdale, NJ

My blog on “Visiting the Farms of Bergen County, NJ at Christmas”:

https://wordpress.com/post/mywalkinmanhattan.com/16128

Don’t miss this holiday lights ride through the orchard in 2021

The holiday event I visited was the Bronx Zoo for their “Holiday Lights” event at the zoo. It was the last night of the event and I arranged for the tickets that afternoon. The zoo gave me a 30% discount to go that evening and I was on the subway ride up to the Bronx.

The Bronx Zoo Light Show

I was really impressed by the display. The entire park was decorated with white lights, with different sections of the park decorated with different themes such as jungle animals, aquatic mammals and all sorts of assorted elephants, seals, penguins, lions, tigers and bears (oh my haha). There were costumed characters to take pictures with and they even had the Bug Carousel open that evening. I got a kick out of riding this since I had not done this since I was a little kid.

Bronx Zoo Christmas tree

The Bronx Zoo musical Christmas Tree in the old part of the zoo

In the older section of the park, they had zebras on stilts and a musical Christmas trees that had an interesting soundtrack of contemporary Christmas songs. Even though Christmas had been over now for almost two weeks, it me back into the Christmas spirit.

My blog on the Bronx Zoo:

https://wordpress.com/post/visitingamuseum.com/5013

So there was the Christmas holidays in the era of COVID. Lots of outdoor activities in hot and cold weather. Many walking tours and more subdued events. Gone were the cocktail parties and big formal dinners and in their place were many more smaller outdoor events and communicating with nature.

Maybe we all needed to take a break from the more formal traditions and go back to the basics of family and friends. I think this was a reflective year and realizing what is important. It had not changed that much for me. I just adjusted to the times, wore a mask and got going. Staying safe and keeping others safe is what is all about.

The holidays were just different this year.

Places to Stay:

AC Hotel New York Times Square

260 West 40th Street

New York, NY 10018

(844) 631-0595

https://www.marriott.com/hotels/travel/nycma-ac-hotel-new-york-times-square/

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Hotel_Review-g60763-d12695463-Reviews-AC_Hotel_New_York_Times_Square-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

Places to Eat:

9th Avenue Deli

769 Ninth Avenue

New York, NY 10019

(212) 258-2600

Open: Sunday-Saturday 24 hours

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d4758581-Reviews-9th_Ave_Deli_Corp-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d15162978-Reviews-AM_PM_Deli_Grocery-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

My review on DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/diningonashoestringinnyc.wordpress.com/762

Golden City Chinese Restaurant

423 Ninth Avenue

New York, NY 10001

(212) 643-9232/736-4004

http://www.goldencitynyc.com/

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

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d3930125-Reviews-Golden_City_Chinese_Restaurant-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

Hell’s Kitchen Deli

535 Ninth Avenue

New York, NY 10018

(212) 594-3393

Open: Sunday-Saturday 24 hours

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d15167472-Reviews-Hell_s_Kitchen_Deli-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

Places to Visit:

The Bronx Zoo

2300 Southern Boulevard

The Bronx, NY 10460

(718) 367-1010

https://bronxzoo.com/

Open: Monday-Friday 10:00am-5:00pm/Saturday & Sunday 10:00am-5:30pm

Fee: Members Free/Adults-Full Experience $39.95/Senior Full Experience $34.99/Child (3-12) $29.99/Child (under 3) Free

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g47369-d136079-Reviews-Bronx_Zoo-Bronx_New_York.html?m=19905

My review on TripAdvisor for the “Holiday Lights Festival”:

https://static.tacdn.com/AttractionProductReview-g47369-d19708232-Bronx_Zoo_Holiday_Lights-Bronx_New_York.html?m=19905

My review on VisitingaMuseum.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/visitingamuseum.com/5013

Staatsburgh State Historic Site(The Mills Mansion)

75 Mills Mansion Drive

Staatsburgh, NY  12580

http://www.facebook.com/staatsburghSHS

Open: Thursday-Sunday: 11:00am-5:00pm

TripAdvisor Review:

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

Hours: Open Thursday-Sunday: 11:00am-5:00pm (the last tour is at 4:00pm)/Open Monday Holidays from April 19th to October 28th. The mansion then closes to prepare for the holiday season. Closed on Thanksgiving and Easter. There are special programs from January to April so please see the website.

Admission: $8.00 for adults/$6.00 for groups and Seniors/Children under 12 are free. Special events have separate fees and can run from $8.00 to $10.00 and above.

My review on VisitingaMuseum.com:

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

The Bergen County Historical Society

1201 Main Street

River Edge, NJ 07661

(201) 343-9492

http://bergencountyhistory.org/

Open: Special Events and weekend hours check the website site

Fee: Depends on events/donations

TripAdvisor Review:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g46776-d7603554-Reviews-Historic_New_Bridge_Landing-River_Edge_New_Jersey.html?m=19905

Visit the Sister Entry on this blog of the Campbell-Christi House VisitingaMuseum.com:

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

My review on VisitingaMuseum.com:

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

Brooklyn Botanical Garden

990 Washington Avenue

Brooklyn, NY  11225

(718) 623-7210

http://www.bbg.org

Open:  Sunday and Saturday 10:00am-6:00pm/Monday Closed/Tuesday-Friday  8:00am-6:00pm

Admission: Depending on the time of year/please check the website

My review on TripAdvisor:

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

My review on VisitingaMuseum.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/visitingamuseum.com/2785

Brooklyn Museum

200 Eastern Parkway

Brooklyn, NY 11238

(718) 638-5000

https://www.brooklynmuseum.org/

Open: Sunday 11:00am-6:00pm/Monday & Tuesday Closed/Wednesday-Saturday 11:00am-6:00pm

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g60827-d110213-Reviews-Brooklyn_Museum-Brooklyn_New_York.html?m=19905

Bud N' Mud Logo

Day One Hundred and Eighty-Five: The Creation of the Case Study of the shop “Bud N’ Mud” December 21st, 2020

The Creation of the shop “Bud N’ Mud” a Coffee/Flower Shop:

Every semester when I am teaching ‘Introduction to Business 101’ at Bergen Community College, I have my class create a major class project in which the whole class becomes part of an Executive team of a mythical company. This way the class benefits from getting to know one another and starting to form their connections with each other both professionally and as a student body. As a commuter campus, you don’t get to know each other too well.

In the past we created Bergecco-Parc Consulting Inc., my main company that I have used for the last three semesters, Orion Malls Inc., a Mall design firm and Buscomonzefi.com, my tech company. Each was an example of how a business team needs to interact with one another and create their part of the business. It was a real chore last semester when the College shut down because of the COVID pandemic and we had to do finish both projects virtually.

The Bergecco-Parc Consulting Inc. logo from last semester

This semester because the classes were all virtual and stayed virtual, I had to create an individual project that each student could do and had to be consistent with the rest of the class. Inspired by a real life store, Remi Flower & Coffee in the Turtle Bay section of Manhattan, at 906 Second Avenue, I created the a similar store, “Bud N’ Mud”. “Bud” coming from the part of the flower that blooms and “Mud” which is slang for coffee.

One of my student’s “Bud N’Mud” logos

From here as we covered Chapter by Chapter of the textbook “Understanding Business” by Nickels and McHugh covering such subjects as job creation, small business creation, customer service, hiring and job descriptions, store design and flow, ad creations and promotions and Mission Statements for a firm. I also got the students to think less as students and more as new entrepreneurs. I wanted this project to be a stepping stone in creating a new business which many of them put as one of their goals in class.

Another great “Bud N’ Mud” logo created my one of my students

First I assigned the project. I had just finished walking the Turtle Bay neighborhood for my blog project, “MywalkinManhattan.com” and passed Remi Flower & Coffee when I was walking around the neighborhood.

Walking in the Turtle Bay neighborhood:

https://wordpress.com/post/mywalkinmanhattan.com/9245

https://wordpress.com/post/mywalkinmanhattan.com/9125

I thought what a clever idea it was to combine the two totally different products and thought that the students would come up with some interesting ideas if I let their creativity run wild. It was to be an interesting semester in watch the project unfold.

Remi Flower and Coffee

Remi Coffee & Flowers at 940 Second Avenue

https://www.reminyc.com/

So chapter by chapter we built the store from ground up. First I had each student create a logo for their store, then we moved on to the menu of the items that they each wanted to carry in their store, then we moved to store design and layout, where they had to show me how the flowers were going to combine with the food and beverages.

Their menu’s got very creative with various beverage and pastry options

We moved next on creating a Mission Statement for their store. I asked them what their business was all about and who did they want to be in the community. I had them then create a job description to hire employees as their business grew and the last thing I had them do was design an ad for a Bundling idea to promote sales in their store (Bundling is a business concept when you promote various items with one price like a two for one or a combination meal).

The store designs got very creative

The ideas flowed out of these students as if they were currently running the business and I saw many different approaches on how to run a business. When I wrapped the project up at the end of the semester, I heard from all the students on what they learned from the project and how they felt about the business they created.

What I enjoyed was that many of them thought they were really running the business as we were creating it and how much they took each part of the project personally especially when I questioned them on how they would do what they were doing and how it would make a profit. Some of them didn’t realize that you can do just what you want to do precariously. You had to have reasons and think it through. I saw a lot of students grow in this class without ever meeting them.

Some of the students even created flower menus

This was the interesting part, I felt like I was teaching blind. I had no idea who these students were or what they looked like because when I offered the optional lecture twice a week so few students (especially many who needed it) did not take advantage of it. When they did, I never got to see what they looked like because they hid behind the computer. It did add an air of mystery to it but still I like to have that one on one with my students. This is something that COVID has robbed from most in the teaching profession.

Bud N' Mud Logo

One of my favorite “Bud N’ Mud” logos

Still the project was a complete success for the class in general and I saw quite a few students really put their all into their work. They really did run their own business for three months. This is what makes being a CEO & an Consultant fun as a Professor. You get to live out your own dreams while watching others do the same. I credit my Fall Semester students with their creative and ingenuity of the above work.

Wait until you see some future projects of mine.

The “Bud N’Mud” project:

Vincent F. Albano Jr. Playground

Day One Hundred and Eighty-Two: Walking the Avenues of Kips Bay from Lexington Avenue to FDR Drive November 24th, 2020

I continued my visit to Kips Bay on a unusually warm but a mix of clouds and sun afternoon. I sometimes can’t tell whether is will rain or not. The walking of the Avenues in Kips Bay was not as extensive as other neighborhoods that I have visited before. Since I had already all of Lexington Avenue and FDR Drive and parts of First Avenue, all I had to cover on this trip was Third, Second and parts of First Avenue that I had not visited before.

FDR Drive in this part of the neighborhood is bounded by impassible sidewalks and closed off roadways by the schools and hospitals. You are pretty much visiting dead end streets with loads of security protecting them. These guys travel in packs and with COVID spreading around New York City there is a reason why they are there. They have to control the number of ambulances that are coming into the Bellevue Hospital complex.

Still there are lots to see and do on all the Avenues and you have to walk them slowly to appreciate the life that is coming back not just to the neighborhood but to the City was well. I am seeing more people on the streets as people are venturing out of their homes, masks and all and returning to work. With so many hospitals and colleges in the neighborhood, street traffic has increased since I started walking around Kips Bay in October.

Walking the Avenues, I have seen how the neighborhood continues to change as the smaller low rise buildings are being replaced in the northern section of the neighborhood as the hospitals and colleges expand. To the west of the neighborhood, the expansion of Midtown is changing the buildings on the border of Kips Bay resembling more the commercial districts of Uptown. Still there is a lot of charm in the small businesses that populate this neighborhood and there are many small ‘gems’ that stand out.

I started on Lexington Avenue first and then walked my way north and south along the avenues as I headed towards the East River again. It is nice to see people on the sidewalks again and dining in restaurants still enjoying the last bits of warm weather.

When walking the borders of the neighborhood, I got caught up in the sites and smells of “Little India/Curry Hill” between East 29th and 26th Streets around Kalustyan’s at 123 Lexington Avenue and decided to explore it further.

Kalustyan’s at 123 Lexington Avenue

The store is such an exciting place for the senses with products of different smells and complexities. I enjoyed picking up the various bags on the shelves and trying to figure out what they were before I looked at the labels. After two years at culinary school, it was lesson in new spices for me.

The racks of spices have the most amazing aroma

Bring around all those spices and interesting frozen foods again made me hungry for Indian food. So across the street I tried Lahori Kabab at 106 Lexington Avenue, a small take out place that had a few tables your could sit down (socially distanced of course).

Lahori Kabab on Lexington Avenue

Lahori Kabab at 106 Lexington Avenue in Kips Bay

They have the most reasonable food and a very diverse menu. I just wanted a snack so I had a Chicken Samosa ($2.00) that was so spicy that it cleared my sinus out and a Allo Tiki, which is a type of potato cake with a yogurt sauce that had a nice pinch to it. Everything on the menu is under $10.00 and attracts a very interesting crowd of customers.

After that nice little snack, I walked back down Lexington Avenue to East 23rd Street and proceeded east to Third Avenue. This is where you see the transitions in the neighborhood. Most of the buildings between East 23rd to East 30th is still dominated by smaller buildings with a lot of independent businesses. As you pass East 30th Street, the high rises are dominating and newer construction is changing the look of the the upper parts of Kips Bay.

As I headed north up Third Avenue, I needed something sweet after the spicy snack and found La Delice Pastry Shop at 372 Third Avenue. What I loved about the bakery is that it has been around since 1935 and it is nice to see these old time businesses still exist in the ever changing fabric of a neighborhood. They carry all sorts of pies, cakes, cookies and pastries.

La Delice

La Delice Pastry Shop at 372 Third Avenue has been there since 1935

I just went in for a jelly doughnut ($1.50) and it was well worth it. The chewiness of the dough and the sweetness of the sugar outside along with the tanginess of the current jelly gave it that old fashioned feel of what a doughnut should be. Beats the hell out of Dunkin!

La Delice

La Delice Pastry Shop has a selection of old-line baked goods

Third Avenue is a juxtapose of architecture as you walk up and down the Avenue. A couple of buildings do stand out amongst the tenement and apartment buildings starting to sprout up along the border of the neighborhood.

One building that had some beautiful features was 497 Third Avenue. This five story building was built in 1930 and offers some beautiful brownstone features around the roof and windows. The Flying Cock restaurant at its base gives it an interesting look from street level.

497 Third Avenue

497 Third Avenue with the interesting accents

Another interesting building is 384 Third Avenue. This picturesque building was built around 1900 by architects Howells & Stokes by the neighboring Madison Square Presbyterian Church as the Madison Square Church House that was used by the church for nightly services. A cast iron base supported the red brick architecture and the ornamented cast iron window lintels. The cornice at the top is made of cast iron (Daytonian in Manhattan).

384 Third Avenue

384 Third Avenue-The Madison Square Church House

When heading back down to East 23rd Street, I admired the Gem Saloon building that was just opening for lunch at 375-377 Third Avenue. These buildings were built in 1910 and was once the old Rodeo Bar that had been a staple in the neighborhood for 27 years.

Gem Saloon at 275-277 Third Avenue

The Gem Saloon at 375-377 Third Avenue was built 1910

As I turned the corner back onto East 23rd Street, I passed the now very quiet Baruch College campus. Part of East 25th Street is now being converted into a college walkway for the students and the construction workers were swarming the place.

Second Avenue is going through the same transformation as Third Avenue with much of the Avenue being knocked down and replaced by new apartment complexes. Much of the west side of the street is still intact with the east side of Second Avenue being rebuilt as part of the hospital complex and now new developments.

The only interesting building I saw was at 453 Second Avenue which was built in 1910 and is now a single family home. The building is now going through another renovation. This small brick building looks like it was once a fire station or a stable.

453 Second Avenue

Across the street is the large Kips Bay Court complex at 490 Second Avenue, that stretches from East 26th to East 29th Streets and when you walk through the complex you will find the oasis of Bellevue South Park. As Fall was progressing, the park was ablaze with what was left of the gold and reds of the leaves of the trees that surrounding the park.

Kips Bay Court

Kips Bay Court Apartments stretch from East 26th to East 29th Streets on the east side of Second Avenue

https://www.kipsbaycourt.com/

Bellevue South Park is a nice break for all the people working in the area and for people living in the apartment complex. The park was created in 1966 when this whole part of the neighborhood went through urban renewal in the 1950’s that ran from East 23rd to East 30th between First and Second Avenue. The park is full of playground equipment and long paths and has some interesting artwork.

Bellevue South Park

Bellevue South Park

What really caught my eye when walking around the park was the sculpture “Scagerrak” by artist Antoni Milkowski. The three interlocking steel blocks was created by the artist for the park in 1970.

Scagerrak by Antoni Milkowski

‘Scagerrak’ by Antoni Milkowski

Artist Antoni Milkowski

https://www.askart.com/artist/Antoni_Milkowski/112685/Antoni_Milkowski.aspx

Mr. Milkowski is an American born artist from Illinois but moved to New York City as a child and is a graduate of Kenyon College and Hunter College in New York. He started to get involved with art in the early 1960’s and started to create contemporary pieces. The work was donated to the Parks system through the Association for a Better New York whose goal it was to enliven parts of the City. The work moved around until places in Bellevue South Park in the mid-1970’s (NYCParks.org).

All that walking was making me hungry again and I saw the sign for Joey Pepperoni Pizza at 493 Second Avenue for dollar slices that are now $1.25. Inflation the sign stated. The place was pretty busy for a mid-afternoon and the pizzas were coming out fresh. It was okay. The sauce was pretty good and the slice was pretty large for the price.

Joey Pepperoni Second Avenue

Joey Pepperoni Pizza at 493 Second Avenue

Across the street from the Kips Bay Court complex, I crossed the street to another small pocket park, the Vincent F. Albano Jr. Playground at 523 Second Avenue, that is tucked into a corner of Second Avenue and East 39th Street. This quaint little park is full a charm with a small playground and shade trees all around it. It was rather quiet the afternoon I was there as it looked like they were limiting the number of people coming here.

Vincent F. Albano Jr. Playground

Vincent F. Albano Playground at 523 Second Avenue

The park was designed by architect M. Paul Friedberg in the late 1960’s and has gone through several renovations since that time. The park was named after Vincent F. Albano, a Republican district leader who lived in the neighborhood until his passing in 1981. He helped preserve the park when the neighborhood was going through all the construction changes (NYCParks.org).

Dominating the neighborhood just to the north of the neighborhood is the Kips Bay Towers complex that stretches up Second Avenue from East 30th to East 33rd Streets. This along with the colleges and the hospital complexes replaced all the tenement housing and factories that were once located here. The complex is pretty much self-contained with a movie theater, supermarket and shops. The complex was designed by renowned architects I. M. Pei and S. J. Kessler in the ‘Brutalist style’ (Wiki).

Kips Bay Towers

Kips Bay Towers at 300 East 33rd Street

http://kipsbaytowers.nyc/

As I walked back down Second Avenue towards East 23rd Street, I realized how much the urban renewal project of the 1950’s changed this part of the City similar to what the Lincoln Hill project did to the Upper West Side when Lincoln Center was built. It just changed the complexity of the neighborhood.

https://www.nycurbanism.com/brutalnyc/kips-bay

First Avenue is dominated mostly by NYU College campus and Bellevue Hospital and NY Langone Hospital. When I walked up First Avenue when walking the borders of the neighborhood I never noticed how new all the buildings seemed. Seeing the results of the Urban Renewal project, the area is similar to a big box complex.

Still there are little gems here and there that standout. On the corner of East 27th and First Avenue is the sculpture “Sentinel” by artist Theodore Roszak. It was designed and dedicated to all people involved in public health. The sculpture is somewhat hidden now under scaffolding during a current renovation of the building next to it.

Sentinel by artist Theodore Roszak

“Sentinel” site at the corner of East 27th Street and First Avenue

Artist Theodore Roszak

Theodore Roszak

http://www.artatsite.com/NewYork/details/Roszak_Theodore_Sentinel_Bellevue_Hospital_modern_statue_Art_at_Site_New_York.html

Mr. Roszak was an Polish born American artist who grew up in the Polish section of Chicago. He was mostly self-taught. He studied both at the Chicago Art Institute and in Europe. He created this sculpture in 1968 and it studied the struggle between man and nature (Art@Site).

Another interesting piece of architecture is the original Bellevue Hospital Building that now has the new entrance of the hospital surrounding the original building. You can try to sneak in to the hospital but there are guards all over the entrance. I was able to walk in during one of their breaks and see the lobby. It once had a beautiful entrance but modern architecture has taken over. Take some time to see this interesting stonework and carvings.

The original entrance to Bellevue Hospital

The original Bellevue Hospital entrance by McKim, Mead &White

The original building which was designed by architects McKim, Mead & White in 1930 housed the oldest continuous public hospital in the United States founded in 1794. The hospital was built on the original Belle Vue farm (thus its name) and today is one of the most innovative hospitals in the world. It still have the stigma though of being a “nut house” when it is far more doing so much innovative work in medicine (Bellevue Hospital History).

Bellevue Hospital by McKim, Mead & White

The original Bellevue Hospital built by McKim, Mead & White in 1930

The new entrance to the Bellevue Hospital Center Ambulatory Center by architect firm Pei, Cobb, Freed & Partners designed between 2000-2005

I finally reached the corner of First Avenue and East 34th Street by the NY Langone Hospital and relaxed in the plaza across from the hospital and then walked to the East River Esplanade again to enjoy the sun and salt water air. it was fun to just relax for a bit before heading back around the neighborhood.

East River Espla

The East River Esplanade is a nice place to relax and watch the boats go by

I made my way back around the neighborhood walking to East 23rd Street to enjoy the sites and smells of Lexington Avenue and “Little India” again. It still amazes me all the sites and smells you can experience in a small neighborhood in Manhattan in one afternoon.

This is what I love about New York City!

Please enjoy my blog on ‘Walking the Borders of Kips Bay’ on MywalkinManhattan.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/mywalkinmanhattan.com/15049

Please enjoy my blog on ‘Walking the Streets of Kips Bay’ on MywalkinManhattan.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/mywalkinmanhattan.com/15954

Places to Eat:

Lahori Kabab

106 Lexington Avenue

New York, NY 10016

(646) 620-3183

https://www.facebook.com/pages/category/Indian-Restaurant/Lahori-kabab-1563556847278295/

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

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d4462125-Reviews-Lahori_Kabab-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

La Delice Pastry Shop Inc.

372 Third Avenue (at the corner of 27th Street)

New York, NY 10016

(212) 532-4409

http://www.ladelicepastry.com/

Open: Sunday 8:00am-8:00pm/Monday-Saturday 7:00am-9:00pm

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d12268309-Reviews-La_Delice_Pastry_Shop-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

Joey Pepperoni Pizza

493 Second Avenue

New York, NY 10016

(212)466-4646

https://www.facebook.com/pages/category/Pizza-Place/Joey-Pepperonis-Pizza-168618546501417/

Open: Sunday-Saturday 11:00am-12:00am

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d5074821-Reviews-Joey_Pepperoni_s_Pizza-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

Places to Visit:

Bellevue South Park

Mt. Carmel & East 27th Street

New York, NY 10016

(212) 639-9675

https://www.nycgovparks.org/parks/bellevue-south-park

Open: Sunday-Saturday 7:00am-6:00pm

Vincent F. Albano Playground & Park

523 Second Avenue

New York, NY 10016

(212) 639-9675

https://www.nycgovparks.org/parks/vincent-f-albano-jr-playground

https://www.nycgovparks.org/parks/vincent-f-albano-jr-playground/history

Open: Sunday-Saturday 7:00am-6:00pm

Kalustyan’s

123 Lexington Avenue

New York, NY 10016

(212) 685-3451

Open: Sunday 11:00am-7:00pm/Monday-Saturday 9:30am-8:00pm

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g60763-d7083811-Reviews-Kalustyan_s-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

The American Kennel Club Museum of the Dog 101 Park Avenue New York, NY 10178

Don’t miss the American Kennel Club Museum of the Dog in the Murray Hill section of Manhattan.

The logo for the American Kennel Club Museum of the Dog

The “Presidential Pets” exhibition was very interesting and informative on the role of pets in the White House.

The entrance and gift shop has a nice modern feel to it.

Visiting a Museum: The Unique, Unusual, Obscure and Historical

The American Kennel Club Museum of the Dog

101 Park Avenue

New York, NY 10178

(212) 696-8360

https://museumofthedog.org/

https://www.facebook.com/akcmuseumofthedog/

Open: Sunday 10:00am-5:00pm/Monday-Thursday Closed/Friday-Saturday 10:00am-5:00pm

Fee: Adults $15.00/Seniors (65+), Students (13-24) & Active Military/Veterans $10.00/Children under 12 $5.00/Members Free

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g60763-d15941897-Reviews-The_American_Kennel_Club_Museum_of_the_Dog-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

The American Kennel Club Museum of the Dog at 101 Park Avenue

When I was walking the neighborhood of Murray Hill for my blog, “MywalkinManhattan.com, I came across on one of the side streets tucked into a new office building on Park Avenue, The American Kennel Club Museum of the Dog at 101 Park Avenue. This unique little museum is two floors of art dedicated to the story of the dog.

The first floor features small fossils that show the early domestication of dogs during prehistoric times with humans. They may have used them for hunting and companionship. You could see this in the burials and in…

View original post 606 more words

AweSum Dim Sum 160 East 23rd Street New York City, NY 10010

Don’t miss the excellent Dim Sum and wonderful service at AweSum Dim Sum.

The Dim Sum Sampler at AweSum Dim Sum

The Contemporary feel of the interiors to dine in

Dining on a Shoe String in NYC

AweSum Dim Sum

160 East 23rd Street

New York City, NY 10010

(646) 998-3313/3314

http://www.awesumdimsum.us/

Open: Sunday 9:30am-8:00pm/Monday-Thursday 11:00am-8:00pm/Friday 11:00am-9:00pm/Saturday 9:30am-9:00pm

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d21335707-Reviews-Awesome_Dim_Sum-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

I love it when I can eat at a restaurant on its first week open and get to enjoy the excitement with the owner as they establish their dream. That is what myself and my best friend felt when we ate at AweSum Dim Sum the first time. The restaurant is on my Advantage Dining Program and was recommended. So I tried it for the first time and loved it and then I took her and she agreed.

Everything on the menu was excellent. All the Dim Sum on the menu is fresh and cooked to order. When it arrives, it is sizzling hot and busting with flavor. The tough part is knowing what to order because everything on the menu is so good.

View original post 481 more words

Day One Hundred and Eighty: The Seventh Anniversary of Professor Angus Gillespie’s talk on the ‘Jersey Devil’ for the Junior Friends of the Hasbrouck Heights Library Halloween Events in 2013 November 13th, 2020

As part of our Halloween festivities for the Junior Friends of the Hasbrouck Heights Library, we had a really special event on November 13th, 2013 for a new event we planned called “The Family Night Lecture” that we had just created. Our special guest that evening was Professor Angus Gillespie from the American Studies Department of Rutgers University. He is an expert and lecturer on folklore and myths including the ‘Jersey Devil’.

Professor Angus Gillespie with Professor and Chairman of the Junior Friends of the Hasbrouck Heights Library Justin Watrel

Professor Gillespie was a noted author and he had explained to me that when he originally wrote the book “The Twin Towers: The Life of New York City’s World Trade Center” that it had a press of 2000 copies in 1999 bought mostly by his mother as gifts to her friends. When the Towers fell two year later, the book took off and became a Best Seller and he was flown all over the world as an expert on the history of the Towers. His book “Folklore in the Pine Barrens: A Study of the Pinelands Cultural Society of Waretown” was when the interest of the Jersey Devil began.

‘The Jersey Devil’

It has been a very interesting lecture that had everyone spellbound on the story of the Leeds family. The legend began with the story of Jane Leeds ( or in some historical cases Deborah Leeds) on a stormy night in 1735. Tired and frazzled from her 12 other children who over-worked her, she found that she was pregnant for the 13th time. She exclaimed ” I hope it’s not a child; I hope its the Devil”.

L

The Leeds former home in the Pine Barrens

On a dark and stormy night she gave birth to the child with friends gathered in the home to witness the birth. The child was born normal and then transformed into a monster of hoofs, a goat’s head, bat’s wings and a forked tail. It then attacked people in the room before it escaped up the chimney. It disappeared into the Pine Barrens and over the years people have claimed to have had encounters with it the latest being in 1909.

Chairman Justin Watrel with Professor Gillespie and members of the Friends of the Hasbrouck Heights Library at the Junior Friends “Family Night Lecture”

It spellbound most of the crowd who were eager to ask questions. Professor Gillespie lead a discussion on the occurrences and accounts of the sightings over the years that got people thinking, was this thing still alive? The crowd had a wonderful time asking questions and getting a feel for the legend.

It was the last event of the Junior Friends of the Hasbrouck Heights Library that year and a wonderful way to celebrate Halloween. We had a small reception afterwards in Professor Gillespie’s honor.

Chairman & Professor Justin Watrel with Professor Angus Gillespie and Library Director Mimi Hui

Day One Hundred and Seventy-Eight: Exploring Downtown Beach Haven & Long Beach Island, NJ-A Local Journey October 3rd ,24th and December 12th, 2020

It is funny to go back to a place that you have not visited since 1975 and realize that time does pass by. I had not been to Beach Haven, NJ since the summer of 1975 when I was just a little kid. We used to visit friends of the family who had a house there and we would visit for about three days. It was interesting to visit a beach community as we never went farther than Sandy Hook, NJ. Going to the Jersey shore was a hike from our home in Bridgewater, NJ and since we belonged to a swim club, my parents saw no reason to run “down the shore” as we say in New Jersey. Why deal with the crowds and lousy parking?

Still I remember visiting there in 1974 and 1975 before these friends no longer belonged to our pool. All I can remember of those visits was swimming in the ocean and diving in the waves wanting to impress these two twin sisters and all I did was tumble in the waves. They and my older bother dove into the waves with no problems. The other thing I remember is the planes going by and saying to eat at “Tilly’s Pizza”. So we begged for it one night for dinner. It was terrible pizza and we ordered this cheese pizza that was just dried out and no flavor. It is funny the things you remember as a kid.

Barnegat Lighthouse

Touring The Barnegat Lighthouse Park is a nice way to spend the morning

I returned to Long Beach Island last summer on my way to the Firemen’s Convention in Wildwood, NJ to visit the Long Beach Island Historical Society, which I had read about in a beach magazine for my blog, VisitingaMuseum.com. I had a long visit at the museum and it was nice afternoon. I had not realized that the NJ Maritime Museum was a couple of blocks away but I did not have time that afternoon to visit. I said that I would go back later. Later was September 2020 over a year later. Hey better late than never. In the age of COVID, it has been a pleasure and escapism.

The Long Beach Island Historical Society

After visiting the museum for my blog and then visiting the Barnegat Lighthouse, I gained a new found respect for Long Beach Island and all it has to offer. I also realized how much it had changed in 45 years. It went from a sleepy somewhat ‘honey tonk’ working class resort to an upscale community with the growth of Wall Street in the late 90’s and the rebuilding after Hurricane Sandy in 2012.

Many of those small little cottages that once lined the streets were long gone and they have been replaced by stilted ‘McMansions’ by the sea. The whole town has been practically knocked down and completely rebuilt. Even the stores were more upscale in their wares and the restaurants were expensive. I did not see too many tee shirt stores or beachy knick -knacks being sold. These are not Boardwalk businesses.

The NJ Maritime Museum

Still there are some great stores and restaurants to visit, cultural and natural sites to see and of course the beautiful beach with its calming sounds and gorgeous sunsets. You never know the complexity of a place until you visit a few times and find the true beauty of the surroundings and people. The downtown of Beach Haven has a lot to see and do as does the surrounding areas of Long Beach Island.

I started my last two visits to Long Beach Island exploring Beach Haven, a small beach hamlet towards the southern part of the island and where I had spent a few summers when I was a child. I do not remember much of the trips except visiting the beach and how rough the waves were to swim. I don’t remember venturing out that much.

When I returned 45 year later, the town changed so much especially in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy flooding the island as well as the rest of the Jersey Shore. It leveled homes and tore though businesses with a vengeance. What it left was a chance to build the island again from the ground up. Everything is so new all over the island. Still there are a lot of older homes and businesses that did survive. Some adapted and some just changed.

I walked the whole town and it was a interesting visit over the past two summers especially on two recent tours of the town in the late summer and early fall. My first stop on my recent trip is where I started touring last year at the Long Beach Island Historical Society at 125 Engleside Avenue in Beach Haven for their Ghost Fest, a family event that the Historical Society was running that afternoon for local families.

Ghost Fest at the LBI Museum

The ‘Ghost Fest’ at the Long Beach Island Historical Society

The Historical Society had not opened yet when I got to Long Beach Island so I started my tour of the island at the Barnegat Lighthouse State Park on the northern part of the island. Even on a gloomy morning in October, the park was very busy.

The cloudy weather did not deter the fisherman from casting and boats were dotting the bay. It was still a warm day and people were out and about. I joined other visitors to the park on the breakers watching the fisherman discuss the days catch and politics about the upcoming election. Some people were admiring the boats or just relaxing to the sounds of the waves. I just enjoyed the salt air and the sound of the waves crashing.

After I left the walkway, I took a tour through the woods in the sand dunes. It was what is left of some virgin woods at the shore. The woods are very interesting because of all the native plants that can live in a sandy shore and survive the winds are harsh winters. Plants such as Jersey Pines, Beach Plum and American holly are native to the area and played an important role in Colonial New Jersey especially during the holidays.

The lighthouse itself was built in 1859 replacing another lighthouse that fell into the sea with the changing tides (see my review on TripAdvisor). The lighthouse has been closed since March with the onset of COVID but the grounds around it were still open and people, masks and all, were walking along the trails and conversing at the picnic tables. Families were walking the trails and paths along the bay. For an early morning in October the park was busy.

The lighthouse and surrounding park is a nice to tour in the early morning

My next stop was the Barnegat Light Museum but it had been closed all season due to the COVID pandemic. I was able to call one of the Board Members of the museum and I would have to tour it later that afternoon. So took another tour of the park and drove back down the island.

Maybe it was the salt air or maybe it was the two hour drive down the shore but I was getting hungry again. Not wanting to eat another breakfast, I stopped at an old time restaurant, Surf City Pizza for a slice. They had just opened for lunch and I could not believe I was eating pizza this early in the morning but it was good.

Surf City Pizza at 1017 Long Beach Boulevard in Surf City, NJ

Pizza slices are

The pizza here is really good

I got to the Long Beach Island Historical Society as they were in full swing of their Ghost Fest and what a nice event it was that afternoon.

The Museum was decorated for Halloween

They had a pony ride, marshmallow roasting and smores by the fire pit, corn hole games, a maze, games of chance, a small gift shop, tours of the museum and even a costume parade with the Jersey Devil. The museum had a nice turnout on a somewhat gloomy afternoon but by the end of the event the sun started to shine.

The ‘Jersey Devil’ lead the Costume Parade that afternoon

I had a while before I had to meet the President of the Barnegat Light Museum so I decided to explore the downtown strip of Beach Haven. What an interesting downtown for a shore community. The days of tee shirt shops and beach gift stores has given way to a collection of interesting restaurants, upscale boutiques and gift stores, small specialty shops and art galleries. When you are selling million dollar homes in the area, you need places for those residents to shop and Long Beach Boulevard has an eclectic group of stores to choose from.

When I first visited Beach Haven after my 45 year absence, I discovered The Woo-Hoo around the corner from the museum. On my first trip to Beach Haven last summer, I came across this impressive little ice cream and lunch stand around the corner from the Historical Society and on a recommendation from the staff had lunch that afternoon. It was excellent!

The Woo Hoo at 211 South Bay Avenue in Beach Haven, NJ

I had one of their Classic Burgers with hand cut French Fries which was just excellent. The burgers have a rich juicy flavor and the mix of ingredients was delightful to eat. The fries were perfectly cooked and salted. I was so impressed by the lunch I went back later for their homemade ice cream that is just excellent.

I had the most amazing Strawberry Cheesecake which was rich and creamy and a Cinnamon Toast Crunch, which was loaded with the cereal. On a recent trip, the hot food had closed for the season but the ice cream was still going. I have this amazing holiday special called ‘Cookies & Scream” for Halloween. It was made with holiday M & M’s and Halloween oreos. It was worth the trip to Beach Haven just for that.

The burgers at the Woo Hoo are delicious

What I love about walking around downtown Beach Haven is the interesting array of stores and food establishments they have on the strip. They are fun to explore on a nice sunny afternoon. I lucked out on my two most recent trips here. The weather broke both days and it ended up a sunny warm afternoon. So I set out to explore the town and I discovered a small community that was much than the beach.

My first stop when I exited Engelside Avenue onto South Bay Avenue is the unique little gift store, “How to Live” at 7 South Bay Avenue, which has a great selection of local artisan gifts, artwork, children’s clothes and books, women’s clothes and art and book items created by the owner, Sandy Gingras. Her whimsical books and art work dot the store.

How I Live shop

‘How to Live’s’ owner, Sandy Gingras

Walking into the store is an experience with the smell of fragrant smells of body products and the musical sounds of the 1980’s. It is a step back in time to when people took time to decorate their homes and give small host gifts. I really loved the homemade Christmas ornaments by a local artist.

How I Live at 7 South Bay Avenue

Further up North Bay Boulevard, the main artery of the town is Chicken or the Egg at 207 North Bay Boulevard with its constant crowds, popular outdoor dining and creative menu. The menu is stocked with interesting sandwiches, burgers and sides. The outdoor seating on a nice day is the way to dine. I have not had a chance to try the restaurant but it is on my bucket list on my next trip to town.

The Chicken or the Egg is at 207 North Bay Boulevard

North Bay Boulevard has a long stretch of eating establishments that are opened at various times of the week.

I stopped at Fourchette at LBI at 511 North Bay Avenue to enjoy the smells of the array of cheeses and look at their assortment of host gifts. They have a lot of interesting cheeses in the case line and the woman behind the counter was eager to explain them all to me.

Fourchette at LBI

Fourchette at LBI at 511 North Bay Avenue

Fourchette at LBI

The Cheese case at Fourchette

Another interesting store was Sandy Banks Art Store at 515 North Bay Avenue in which the first afternoon I visited a local artist was having an art show in the small courtyard adjoining the store. The art was vibrant and the artist was proud of the paintings she was showing off.

Sandy Banks Art Studio

Sandy Banks at 515 North Bay Boulevard

Anchoring the main part of the downtown is the local shore department store, B &B Stores, which has been a Jersey Shore staple since 1932. Located in many well known beach communities, B &B stocks not just bathing suits and swim gear but an array of clothing, gifts and accessories for the local community. I have been in the store during the summer months and it is wall to wall swim suits, tee shirts and shorts but as the cooler months approach and the rushing of the holidays, I saw my first Christmas tree down the shore.

B & B Department Store

B & B Department Store at 835 North Bay Avenue

That afternoon there was a nice rush of locals and tourist grasping the last days of warm weather down the shore and even though we were all in masks (COVID is big down the shore too), people were going about their shopping with a vengeance. It was nice to see a crowd of people enjoying a shopping trip and conversing with one another talking over their masks.

The selection of merchandise at B & B Department Stores give me faith in the department store industry.

Crossing the street , there is a tiered mall, The Seaman’s Village, stocked with small stores and restaurants that is big with the beach going community on a rainy afternoon. During the two trips to Beach Haven that I made most of the stores were closed or has partial hours during the week and weekends. It seems though with the warmer weather extending into November and the exodus of people out of the cities, the stores are staying open much longer than usual.

Another homegrown store that I have enjoyed visiting on my last few trips to town is the Crust & Crumb Bakery at 9 North Bay Boulevard. This old fashioned bakery has the usual assortments of cookies, cakes, pastries and doughnuts and an array of Italian pastries as well. I have enjoyed their jelly and custard filled doughnuts and their seasonal pumpkin glazed doughnuts are delicious.

Crust & Crumb Bakery at 9 North Bay Boulevard

Trust me, after a day at the shore or just walking around enjoying the beautiful weather, a trip here can satisfy any sweet tooth. The selection is extensive and don’t miss the giant cinnamon elephant ears.

There are a lot of delicious items to choose from at Crust & Crumb

Walking back down North Bay Boulevard, passing Fantasy Island Amusement Park reminds you that this is still a shore town. On my first trip to Beach Haven in September the park was still open just very quiet. On a warm sunny Friday afternoon, there were not too many people walking around and the staff spent most of their time on their cellphones or chatting amongst themselves.

Fantasy Island Amusement Park

Fantasy Island Amusement Park at 750 North Bay Avenue

On my second trip in late October, the park was closed but the arcade was open. Talk about bells and whistles with lots of music, lights and excitement. There were only about a dozen of us in the arcade but it was a lot of fun taking a step back into time when I used to visit the pinball and skeetball machines when I was in high school. There were a lot of the old machines that I remember including a version of PacMan and Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory.

Fantasy Island

The arcade at Fantasy Island Amusement Park brings back memories of a simpler time.

Walking around the arcade before dinner was an experience. The few people who were playing games were laughing and having a good time. The adults were having just a good time as their kids and I saw that it brought the kid back in them.

I stopped for a snack before venturing further at Slice of Heaven Pizza at 610 North Bay Avenue. The restaurant was closed for indoor dining so I ate outside with the pizza chef who was taking a break. The pizza was pretty good and when I was talking to the pizza cook he said how sporadic the business had been all summer. It was just starting to get busy by the end of the summer.

SLice of Heaven Pizza

Slice of Heaven Pizzeria at 610 North Bay Avenue

Another wonderful gift, design and furniture store is The Spotted Whale at 500 North Bay Avenue. The store has a light and breezy beach feel to it with light colors and a lot of nautical looks. This store is more geared to the shore customer.

The Spotted Whale at 500 North Bay Avenue has some interesting looks about it

Walking further south, I took detour into the Coffee Nest at 106 North Bay Avenue to see what their baked good were like. The store is a combination gift store, coffee shop and bakery with some floral arrangements up front. There was not much left in the bakery area when I got there but they have a nice assortment and the prices are a bit high. I liked the music playing though. A step in here and your would think you are in Williamsburg or Bushwick and not Beach Haven.

Coffee Nest

The Coffee Nest at 106 North Bay Street

Coffee Nest Interior

The interior at the Coffee Nest is very Bohemian

When I visited the first time, I came to see the NJ Maritime Museum that is located around the corner from the Coffee Nest on Dock Road towards the bay. The NJ Maritime Museum is located across the street from two very popular restaurants facing the bay at 528 Dock Road.

The NJ Maritime Museum is located at 528 Dock Road by the bay

This small but interesting museum contains not just the history of the towns of Long Beach Island but also has the history of the hotels that once dotted the shore, shipwrecks, the Coast Guard and the 1916 Shark Attack that inspired the movie “Jaws”. Several cruise disasters have interesting displays with documented accounts and all sorts of memorabilia. The museum was founded in 2007 by collector Deb Whitcraft.

The museum’s nautical displays are very detailed

Take time to explore each room and read the details of the displays. You will delve deeper into the history of Long Beach Island and its rich history as a fishing and hunting area for the Lennape Indians, then the Dutch and English traders to its time as a resort community to the new morphing during COVID as a full time community catering to the residents on their exodus out of New York City and Philly. The museum is rewriting history again in the era of COVID.

For lunch on my recent trip I had to find a place to watch the Michigan State versus Rutgers game. It was depressing watching us get tapped danced on by Rutgers during the third quarter. What made it less depressing was the food at Tuckers Tavern, a restaurant facing the bay at 101 South Bay Avenue( see review on TripAdvisor).

Tuckers Tavern at 101 South Bay Avenue

The bar area was socially distanced and they had plenty of TV’s to watch the game. We ended up losing 38-27 but I knew the game was over pretty much by the end of third quarter and I did not travel two hours to sit at the bar and get depressed.

Michigan State lost to Rutgers that afternoon

What perked me up though was the food. It it was excellent. I had a crab cake sandwich that was out of this world. It was loaded with crab and was so sweet. The fries were freshly cut and deep fried to perfection. The whole meal was delicious and picked me right up to keep going for the rest of the afternoon.

The Crab Cake sandwich

Do not miss the Tuckers Tavern’s Crab cake sandwich

It was nice after lunch to just walk around the bay area and admire the sunshine. The views from the restaurant that lined the bay was just amazing. It was so nice to just walk off lunch and admire the views. I watched the boats coming in and out of the docks.

The bay side restaurant row is breathtaking

After visiting both museums on the lower part of the island, I headed back to the northern part of the island for an appointment that I had to see the Barnegat Light Museum at 501 Central Avenue in Barnegat Light, a tiny museum that housed the original Barnegat Lighthouse light.

The original Barnegat light from the lighthouse

It was an old schoolhouse built in 1903 that had been converted into museum. The museum housed interesting artifacts like dinosaur bones found on the island, housewares from local residents, notes from the students who went to school at the schoolhouse and nautical items.

The Barnegat Light Museum at 501 Central Avenue

The President of the museum took me on a private tour of the museum and she told me about all the pieces in the space. I also got to tour the gardens that surrounded the museum that were tended by the Long Beach Island Garden Club who did a wonderful job.

The gardens at the Barnegat Light Museum

As the day wore on, I walked the Barnegat Lighthouse State park one more time and admired the inlet and enjoyed the breezes. People were walking along the pathways before the park closed at 4:00pm.

As I walked the around the area, exploring Andy’s at the Lighthouse at 202 Broadway, an old general store that had a lot of handmade wood works by a local artist and has a nice selection of tee shirts and gifts.

Wildflowers by the Lighthouse at 410 Broadway

Another store that stood out was Wildflowers by the Lighthouse by owner and artist, Cricket Luker and the store really stands for it innovative clothing and accessories. The owner is a local artist who took her art studio and turned it to a clothing store over time. She also opened Wildflowers Too! an art gallery at 506 Broadway that shows local and metropolitan artists with a collection of paints, sculpture and gifts.

Wildflowers Two! at 506 Broadway

It was later in the afternoon when I headed back down to the southern part of the island to Beach Haven and I had some dinner. When I was walking past the NJ Maritime Museum, I came across Polly’s Dockside and Clamhouse at 112 Northwest Avenue. The restaurant is a small establishment right on the dock facing the bay and has the most amazing fried clams and clam chowder.

Polly

Polly’s Dockside & Clamhouse at 112 Northwest Avenue

I sat at the bar facing the water and watching the sun set. I ate the richest clam chowder while watching boats come in and out of the dock. The sun set right in front of all of us as we ate and it was like watching a movie. Mother Nature can really treat you to the most beautiful things in life. I swear I snacked so much during the day that I could barely finish my fried clam appetizer which was much larger than I expected so it came home with me.

The food is just as good as the sunset at Polly’s Dockside & Clamhouse

I left when it got dark much later than I thought I would leave and I had a two hour drive home. I stopped at the Custard House at 6403 Long Beach Boulevard for some vanilla custard that settled my stomach. It was the right pick me up after all the food, touring and walking. This popular little stand has plenty of outside seating on a warm evening.

Custard Hut

Custard Hut at 6403 Long Beach Boulevard

I was able to visit the island once more before the dark days of winter came upon us. Surprisingly enough when I visited in December, it was warm. The whole weekend was going to be in the high 50’s. It did not disappoint me as the sun came out.

I started this journey by visiting Barnegat, a small town just north of the cross-way from Long Beach Island. I was exploring the downtown and visiting a store named the ‘Unshredded Nostalgia’, a antique store that carried everything from old movie posters to local history books, 70’s posters and records to house hold decorations. It was one of those stores that a movie scout might look for props.

Unshredded Nostalgia

Unshredded Nostalgia at 232 South Main Street

The town of Barnegat is a small hamlet just north of Long Beach Island on the mainland a few miles from the cross-way. The Victorian architecture is a little shabby and the downtown has a lot of potential if it was renovated a bit more. It does have a unique look to it. It was a stop over for me on my back to Long Beach Island for a pre-Christmas visit.

Downtown Barnegat NJ

Downtown Barnegat, NJ

During the late summer I had came across a flyer from the Surflight Theater for a Christmas production entitled “We need a little Christmas”, a COVID related play about Christmas in Maine. I had thought about it and at the last minute decided to visit Long Beach Island to see what the Jersey shore is like at the holidays. This was pretty shocking how quiet it had gotten.

The Surflight Theater at 201 Engleside Avenue

The play was cute and not too serious with a happy ending and a lot of Christmas songs that trust me everyone in the audience needed to hear. It really cheered me up and put me into the holiday spirit.

“We need a Little Christmas” at the Surflight Theater

The irony of the show was that when it was over and we walked outside the theater, the clouds gave way and it was sunny and 56 degrees out. It was so nice outside and no wind that I walked down the block and walked on the beach which surprisingly I had not done in all my trips to Beach Haven. This was the first time I had touched the Jersey Shore all year and since 1975 here.

This is when I believe in God when we can enjoy the Christmas holidays with late summer weather. This is what I liked about visiting Hawaii during the holidays. I could walk on the beach and dig into the sand and smell the salt air without freezing. It was nice to just walk on the beach and hear the waves crash.

Beach Haven

Beach Haven beach, what a day!

After the walk on the beach, I decided to walk around the downtown. I was amazed on how much was now closed. “How to Live” was closing for the season and everything was 50% off, the Crust & Crumb and a whole list of other restaurants has closed for the season. The arcade closed for the season as well. B & B Department Store was still open and decorated for the holidays but pretty much everything surrounding it was closed for the season.

The museums, art galleries and some of the bay side restaurants and attractions were shut down for the winter months as well. I thought with so many people staying on the island as residents more would be open. I had lunch at The Shack at 302 North Bay Boulevard, which was one of the few places that was still open. I had noticed it when I was visiting in October and they had a nice selection of lunch specials for $8.00.

The Shack

The Shack at 302 North Bay Boulevard

Just wanting a snack, I had their $5.00 pizza combination, which was two slices of their fresh pizza and a Coke. I highly recommend their pizza. It must have been cooked in a hot coal oven because the crust and bottom were really crisp and pillowy. The sauce was well spiced and had a nice flavor and the slices were very generous (see review on TripAdvisor).

The Shack Pizza

The Shack Pizza is delicious

After lunch, I decided to head up the coast and explore how the island was decorated for Christmas. In the downtown areas of Ships Bottom there were some nice decorations of lighted trees but outside that with a few store fronts with lights, the area was dark. Everything had closed for the season. With each town I passed, it was really quiet.

When I got to Barnegat Light, the lighthouse was dark and the park was closed as was all the stores surrounding it including Wildflowers at the Lighthouse, which I enjoyed visiting on my last two trips. The stores either were closed for the season or closed at 4:00pm when the park closed.

On my trip back down the island, it was eerie how quiet the neighborhoods had gotten since Halloween. I thought more people were staying down here full time and I did not see that many homes lite up let alone decorated.

The one thing I did see was the most amazing sunset over the island and especially the bay area. The whole sky was reflecting off the clouds and had the most beautiful array of colors in reds, oranges and whites bouncing off the sky. The sun really gives a performance on Long Beach Island.

Beach Haven Sunset

Beach Haven sunset

Before I left the island for home that evening and for the rest of the season, I stopped at the Chicken or The Egg for dinner which had been on my bucket list to try since the end of the summer. The food and the service were excellent and everyone was so laid back.

The dinner was excellent (see review on TripAdvisor). I had a sandwich named the Chicken Slammer, which was a fried chicken breast topped with Bacon, Jack Cheddar, Lettuce and Tomato and capped off with tangy barbecue sauce with a side of fries and pickles. it had such nice flavor in each bite.

The Chicken Slammer Sandwich

The Chicken Slammer sandwich at The Chicken or The Egg

The restaurant has the most amazing desserts. I had their Cinnamon Roll Ice Cream Sandwich, which I highly recommend. They bake their own cinnamon buns and then cut it in half, load it with vanilla ice cream and top it with caramel syrup and then top it with cinnamon sugar. I swear that their is nothing like each bite of that dessert! No wonder it is so popular.

Cinnamon Bun Ice Cream Sandwich

Cinnamon Bun Ice Cream sandwich is heavenly

I was so stuffed from dinner, I needed to take one last look around and I went back to the square and walked around all the lit Christmas trees , all twenty five of them surround the gazebo, and then the main one inside. On a warm night, with the waves crashing in the background, I thought this was an amazing place to admire a Christmas tree.

It was treat to come to Beach Haven and Long Beach Island again after a forty year absence. Who knew that the island in its transformation from working class resort to high class residential community offered so much in the way of shopping, restaurants and cultural sites packed onto one island. There is something for everyone here including the beach.

I thought it was a nice group of visits to get my mind off what is going on in the world. What’s better than the Jersey Shore in warm weather? Visiting at all times of the year in warm weather.

Christmas at the Shore!

The Beach Haven Christmas Tree Lighting 2020 (virtually of course):

Places to Eat:

Surf City Pizza

1017 Long Beach Island Boulevard

Surf City, NJ 08008

(609) 361-8150

http://www.surfcitypizza.com/

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

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g46856-d1913639-Reviews-Surf_City_Pizza-Surf_City_Long_Beach_Island_New_Jersey.html?m=19905

The Woo Hoo

211 South Bay Avenue

Beach Haven, NJ 08008

(609) 492-5433

https://thewoohoo.com/

Open: Sunday-Saturday 4:00pm-9:00pm

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g46292-d7646259-Reviews-The_WooHoo-Beach_Haven_Long_Beach_Island_New_Jersey.html?m=19905

My review on DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/diningonashoestringinnyc.wordpress.com/1244

Tuckers Tavern

101 Southwest Avenue

Beach Haven, NJ 08008

(609) 492-2300

https://www.tuckerstavern-lbi.com/

https://www.facebook.com/tuckerstavernlbi/

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

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g46292-d6969557-Reviews-Tuckers_Tavern-Beach_Haven_Long_Beach_Island_New_Jersey.html?m=19905

Polly’s Dock and Clamhouse

112 Northwest Avenue

Beach Haven, NY 08008

(609) 492-2194

http://www.pollysdock.com/

Open: Sunday -Saturday 7:00am-10:00pm (check by season)

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g46292-d9597864-Reviews-Polly_s_Dock_and_Clamhouse-Beach_Haven_Long_Beach_Island_New_Jersey.html?m=19905

Crust & Crumb Bakery

9th Street at North Bay Avenue

Beach Haven, NJ 08008

(609) 492-4966

https://www.facebook.com/CrustAndCrumbLBI/

Open: Sunday-Saturday 7:30am-10:00pm

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g46292-d832477-Reviews-Crust_Crumb_Bakery-Beach_Haven_Long_Beach_Island_New_Jersey.html?m=19905

Slice of Heaven Pizzeria

610 North Bay Boulevard Street 1

Beach Haven, NJ 08008

(609) 492-7437

https://slicelife.com/restaurants/nj/beach-haven/8008/slice-of-heaven/menu

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

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g46292-d438989-Reviews-Slice_of_Heaven-Beach_Haven_Long_Beach_Island_New_Jersey.html?m=19905

Custard Hut

6403 Long Beach Boulevard

Beach Haven, NJ 08008

(609) 361-0900

https://www.facebook.com/custardhutLBI/

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

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g46292-d2228772-Reviews-Custard_Hut-Beach_Haven_Long_Beach_Island_New_Jersey.html?m=19905

Chicken or the Egg

207 North Bay Avenue

Beach Haven, NJ 08008

(609) 492-3695

https://www.facebook.com/chegg609/

Open: Sunday-Thursday 8:00am-9:00pm/Friday & Saturday 8:00am-10:00pm

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g46292-d438676-Reviews-The_Chicken_or_the_Egg-Beach_Haven_Long_Beach_Island_New_Jersey.html?m=19905

The Coffee Nest

106 North Bay Avenue

Beach Haven, NJ 08008

(609) 361-4922

https://www.coffeenestlbi.com/

https://www.facebook.com/coffeenestbeachhaven/

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

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g46292-d21165755-Reviews-Coffee_Nest-Beach_Haven_Long_Beach_Island_New_Jersey.html?m=19905

The Shack

302 North Bay Avenue

Beach Haven, NJ 08008

(609) 342-1221

https://www.facebook.com/TheShackLBI/

Open: Sunday-Saturday 8:00am-10:00pm

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g46292-d10509214-Reviews-The_Shack-Beach_Haven_Long_Beach_Island_New_Jersey.html?m=19905

Places to Visit:

Long Beach Island Historical Society

129 Engleside Avenue

Beach Haven, NJ 08008

(609) 492-0700

https://www.facebook.com/LBIMuseum/

Open: By Appointment now; Please check website for hours

Fee: $5.00 Donation

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g46292-d11444615-Reviews-Long_Beach_Island_Historical_Museum-Beach_Haven_Long_Beach_Island_New_Jersey.html?m=19905

My review on VisitingaMuseum.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/visitingamuseum.com/3311

Barnegat Light Museum

501 Central Avenue

Barnegat, NJ 08006

(609) 494-8578

http://www.bl-hs.org/

Open: By Appointment

Fee: Donation to the museum

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g46285-d8548161-Reviews-Barnegat_Light_Museum-Barnegat_Light_Long_Beach_Island_New_Jersey.html?m=19905

My review on VisitingaMuseum.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/visitingamuseum.com/5473

NJ Maritime History Museum

528 Dock Road

Beach Haven, NJ 08008

Open: Check website for updates

Fee: Donation to museum

(609) 492-0202

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g46292-d1881647-Reviews-Museum_of_NJ_Maritime_History-Beach_Haven_Long_Beach_Island_New_Jersey.html?m=19905

My review on VisitingaMuseum.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/visitingamuseum.com/5338

The Barnegat Lighthouse State Park

208 Broadway

Barnegat, NJ 08006

(609) 494-2016

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

Open: 8:00am-8:00pm

Fee: Free for the park/Check website for summer hours

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g46285-d286497-Reviews-Barnegat_Lighthouse_State_Park-Barnegat_Light_Long_Beach_Island_New_Jersey.html?m=19905

My review on VisitingaMuseum.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/visitingamuseum.com/5345

Fantasy Island Amusement Park

750 North Bay Avenue

Beach Haven, NJ 08008

(609) 492-4000

https://www.facebook.com/fantasyislandlbi/

Open: Seasonal please check their website

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g46292-d6209495-Reviews-Fantasy_Island_Amusement_Park-Beach_Haven_Long_Beach_Island_New_Jersey.html?m=19905

Surflight Theater

201 Engleside Avenue

Beach Haven, NJ 08008

(609) 492-9477

https://www.surflight.org/

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g46292-d2233639-Reviews-Surflight_Theatre-Beach_Haven_Long_Beach_Island_New_Jersey.html?m=19905

Places to Shop:

How to Live

7 South Bay Street

100 North Bay Avenue

Beach Haven, NJ 08008

Phone: (609) 492-9232

Fax: (609) 492-1611

https://howtolivelbi.com/

Open: Open: Sunday-Thursday 10:00am-5:00pm/Friday 9:00am-7:00pm/Saturday 10:00am-5:00pm

My review on LittleShoponMainStreet@Wordpress.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/littleshoponmainstreet.wordpress.com/780

Wildflowers by the Lighthouse

410 Broadway

Barnegat Light, NJ 08006

(609) 361-8191

https://www.wildflowersbythelighthouse.com/

https://www.wildflowersbythelighthouse.com/blank

https://www.facebook.com/wildflowerslbi/

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

My review on LittleShoponMainStreet@Wordpress.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/littleshoponmainstreet.wordpress.com/806

B & B Department Store

835 North Bay Avenue

Beach Haven, NJ 08008

(609) 492-4050

https://www.bnbstores.com/lbi

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

The Spotted Whale

500 North Bay Avenue

Beach Haven, NJ 08008

(609) 467-7407

https://www.spottedwhale.com/

Open: Sunday 10:00am-5:00pm/Monday-Thursday 10:00am-4:00pm

Sandy Banks Art Store

515 South Bay Avenue

Beach Haven, NJ 08008

(609) 492-5526

https://sandybanksboutique.com/

https://www.facebook.com/sandybanksboutique/

Open: Check their website for current hours

Fourchette at LBI

511 South Bay Avenue

Beach Haven, NJ 08008

(609) 991-2451

http://www.fourchette-fromage.com/locations

https://www.facebook.com/fourchettelbi/

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

Andy’s At the Light

202 Broadway

Barnegat Light, NJ 08006

(609) 494-2063

https://andysatthelight.com/

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

Unshredded Nostalgia

323 South Main Street

Barnegat, NJ 08005

(609) 660-2626

https://www.facebook.com/UnshreddedNostalgia/

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

Spider Puppet on the Jefferson Market Library

Day One Hundred and Seventy-Nine: Halloween returned in an era of COVID October 31st, 2020

This Halloween was very subdued but not entirely canceled this year.

New Jersey still allowed Trick or Treating even though I saw very few children outside on the one nice sunny day we had seen in over two weeks. Because of the recent hurricanes hitting the Gulf Coast, we got the tail of the last two storms. It had been cloudy and gloomy for almost three weeks and Halloween day was the first nice day we had. I could see that people wanted to get out of the house.

In the era COVID, I could not see too many people going out Trick or Treating. It was an unusual Halloween for me as I was usually preparing for a long day of working at the Halloween Parade in Manhattan but because of COVID that parade was cancelled. This on top of pretty much any other Halloween related activity. Things were done on a smaller scale. I saw small children Trick or Treating in our downtown business district and some parents were weaving between businesses to talk to merchants.

Residents in our community really decorated their houses and in some cases overdid it. I felt like I was passing mini cemeteries and houses of horror. I can understand that parents wanted to bring some sense of normalcy to their families in this extremely rough time.

Halloween Night in Hasbrouck Heights NJ

Halloween in Hasbrouck Heights, NJ

I started the day at a drill with the fire department. We spent the morning using the Hurst tools and practicing cutting a van. The department was practicing rescuing people from a trapped vehicle. It was a good training session as we all got chances to cut parts of the van and then get a small lecture on our work. At the end of the day, we had a wrap up session and then a pizza lunch. It was nice to just relax after a busy morning.

Our new coach, Mel Tucker, lead Michigan State University to victory

When I got home I arrived in time to watch the forth quarter of the Michigan State versus University of Michigan game. After the disaster we had the week before with Rutgers, we needed this win badly. I would like to say it was a back and forth game but we dominated them for most of the game and pulled out the win 27-24. Watching the Michigan players leave the stadium with all the arrogance gone was enjoyable. This since their coach practically forced the Big Ten to play when COVID is raging all over the country.

Beating Michigan every year is a pleasure!

Don’t miss the highlights from the game. It was something!

After the game was over, my best friend, Kris and I had a long and very excited conversation about the game which is the bragging rights of Michigan and that is a big deal between both sets of Alumni.

I looked outside on the sunny day and saw absolutely no Trick or Treaters. The Halloween Parade Committee had sent out an email earlier in the week that the Spider Puppet would be ‘crawling out of’ Jefferson Market Library on the corner of Sixth Avenue and 10th Street plus there would be a slide show in Times Square. With no other plans and a beautiful night ahead of me, off I went into Manhattan.

My first stop was Times Square which is a hop, skip and jump from Port Authority. I swear the whole area was crowded with people in costume having a wonderful time. I was surprised with the COVID going on how many people especially young families with children were not wearing masks. They were wearing costumes with no face coverings including the children.

Since the parade was cancelled, people had their own makeshift parade and were laughing, yelling and having a good time talking to one another in the closed off portion of Times Square between West 42nd to West 45th Streets along Broadway. I could see people just wanted to don a costume and forget all their troubles. I never realized how much people enjoyed the parade and how much they missed it.

Halloween Night in Times Square

Times Square on Halloween Night 2020

Try as I might, I could not find that billboard with the pictures of the Halloween Parade on it and I could not remember if they posted a side street with the information so I walked about four blocks around the square looking for the billboard and admiring the costumes.

I decided to head to the Village to see the spider puppet emerge from the library. That was another busy neighborhood. All the side street around Sixth Avenue were jammed with people in restaurants and bars. Here they were wearing masks to a point. When they were seated in extremely crowded restaurants, it was mask off. I could tell though again people were having a good time. Everyone looked fatigued and just needed to let off a little steam.

Stonewall Inn on Halloween Night

Pumpkin Men greeted people at the Stonewall Inn on Halloween Night

I watched as the puppet did emerge and dance around the outside of the library, which is a beautiful Victorian structure. The spider crawled out of the tower and I could see the puppeteers from the balcony above directing the spider.

Spider Puppet on the Jefferson Market Library

The spider emerges from the Jefferson Market Library on Sixth Avenue

The spider is the creation of artist Basil Twist, a professional puppeteer with a studio on Leroy Street in the Village who constructed the puppet in 1994. He created the puppet as an homage to one of the original puppets in the parade that was founded by Roger Lee in the 1970’s. The artist usually waits until the marchers in the Halloween Parade get to Eighth Street to release the puppet. (DNA Info Danielle Tcholakian).

Artist Basil Twist

Artist Basil Twist with his spider in the clock tower of the Jefferson Market Tower

https://www.basiltwist.com/

Artist Basil Twist is an American born artist originally from San Francisco and now resides in New York City. He is a third generation puppeteer and is the only American to graduate from the Ecole Superieure Nationale des Arts de la Marionette in France. He is an artist, puppet designer, director and guest lecturer at many colleges.

A video on artist Basil Twist’s work

On quiet Sixth Avenue that only a year before on a 71 degree night where throngs of people walked uptown in the Halloween Parade, I watched the spider dangle from the library and dance down the side of the building. There were very few people to watch the show but the spider did its thing amusing all of us who watched it.

Just as I started to watch the slide show across the street from the library that was being shown of clips of the Halloween Parade, I ran across Grace, our fearless leader of the Parade who checks me in every year before I work the gate. I could barely recognize her under the mask. She and the creator of the Halloween Parade, Jeanne Fleming, were watching the spider too and running the slide show of past parades on the side of a apartment building across Sixth Avenue.

Jeanne Fleming, our fearless leader & Founder of the Halloween Parade

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

Grace and I talked for a bit while watching the spider crawl down from the balcony about how different a year makes. The Village was still busy with people walking on the streets with costumes and bars and restaurants packed with people enjoying the warm October night. It was definitely strange not to see thousands of people walk up Sixth Avenue after all these years but next year brings hopeful optimism.

The full Moon was in its magnificence that evening

I said my goodbyes to her and Jeanne and took one last stroll around the Village with its outdoor dining and costumed revelers and hoped things would work out. Then I noticed the beautiful full moon overhead. I had never seen one so bright on Halloween Night. No witches crossing the moon but a brightness to light the way into better years ahead.

Still I was also able to sneak up to Croton on the Hudson for the Annual “Pumpkin Blaze” that is sponsored by the Hudson River Historical Society. It was a much toned down event than last year and at 25% capacity was much easier to get through the displays. I had never seen so few people at the event but in the era of COVID it is smarter to have a smaller crowd and have the event than to have nothing. It is the Historical Society’s biggest fundraiser and people were having a good time.

The Van Cortlandt Manor ablaze with sights and sounds in its pumpkin cemetery

The Blaze was amazing with all the music, sites and sounds. I loved the MoMA version of the museum with pumpkin portraits and the Pumpkin Bridge, Ferris Wheel and Spider Webs. There was even a Croton on the Hudson fire truck and ambulance in dedication to all the hard work during COVID. Smaller yes but no less wonderful. I am glad that ran the event.

The Pumpkin Ferris Wheel at the Pumpkin Blaze at Croton on the Hudson

One of the Pumpkin Paintings based on “The Scream”

Van Cortlandt Manor in all its ghoulish delight the night of “The Blaze”

Justin Watrel (the blogger) at “The Pumpkin Blaze” during the Halloween holidays

I had the most amazing Chinese meal at New Happy Garden at 440 South Riverside Avenue #440 in the ShopRite Mall next to the Blaze and I highly recommend the restaurant. The Orange Chicken with Pork Fried and egg rolls.

A much more toned down Halloween than in the past but between the all events it made Halloween a more special time to get my mind off everything going on in the world.

Happy Halloween!

Highlights from the Halloween Parade 2019

The First Annual Miniature Halloween Parade: The gift of the Halloween Parade Committee in 2020

Giggles the Scare

My neighbor’s Scarecrow, Giggles. I think this thing is evil (Ha Ha)

Places to Visit:

Hasbrouck Heights Home Decorations

Drive around our Borough of Hasbrouck Heights, NJ in Bergen County for Halloween and Christmas decoration every October and December

The Halloween Parade

The Parade steps off at 7:00pm on Halloween Night starting at Canal Street in Manhattan

The Jefferson Market Library (to see the Spider Puppet)

425 Sixth Avenue

New York City, NY 10011

(212) 243-4334

https://www.nypl.org/locations/jefferson-market

Van Cortlandt Manor

525 South Riverside Avenue

Croton on the Hudson, NY 10520

(914) 366-6900

Open: Seasonal Please check their website

My review on TripAdvisor:

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

My review on VisitingaMuseum.com:

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

Places to Eat:

New Happy Garden Chinese Restaurant

440 South Riverside Avenue

Cronton On the Hudson, NY 10520

(914)271-7888

https://www.menupix.com/westchester/restaurants/3212099/Dong-Happy-Garden-Menu-Croton-On-Hudson-NY

Open: Sunday 12:00pm-10:00pm/Monday-Thursday 11:00am-10:30pm/Friday & Saturday 11:00am-11:00pm

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g47560-d4616434-Reviews-Dong_Happy_Garden-Croton_on_Hudson_New_York.html?m=19905

My life as a Fireman: Brothers of Engine One HHFD hold their Ninth Annual Chicken Parm Dinner February 9th, 2018

My time on the Hasbrouck Heights Fire Department

We took a lot pride in our Annual Chicken Parm Dinner that took place after our April drill. Brother Justin Watrel in front of the Chicken Parm dinner.

Chicken Parm

There was not much left after each dinner.

Everyone always took home dessert.

Murray Hill Brownstones

Day One Hundred and Seventy-Two: Walking the Avenues of Murray Hill from Madison to First Avenues August 14th, 2020

I have recently been reading articles about New York City and how ‘dead’ it has become and how ‘it will never come back this time’. It’s funny when people who did not come into New York in the 1970’s and early 80’s or were even born remember what we went through when visiting Manhattan. Some residents who came into the City in the last ten years see a much different place than what I remembered in all my years working on Macy’s on 34th Street. It was ‘no miracle in 1990’s when I started in the Buying offices and Seventh Avenue after 6:00pm was no better when left the store for home.

Ford to the City

That famous cover from so many years ago

Still by doing this walking project I don’t see a ‘dead city”. I see a City going through another transition and adaption. New York City is unique in the way it changes over time. When I walked the streets of Manhattan at Christmas just nine months ago, I saw a City again in the process of changing. I had never seen so many homeless out on the streets and saw the streets and avenues get dirty again. This started the last two years under Mayor Bloomberg and continued under the current mayor.  I was not too sure what was happening or why it was changing considering all the building going on and renovations in parks, squares and pathways around the City.

Still as I started to walk the Avenues of Murray Hill, I did not see a ‘dead city’. I saw vibrancy and energy on each block. I saw adaption in restaurants with outdoor dining and delivery. I saw stores open to limited people but still open and display their wares with zest. I saw hopelessness next to enthusiasm but the one thing I didn’t see was everyone giving up.

From the delivery guys from GrubHub piling up orders to the men and women meeting their friends socially distanced at outdoor cafes all over the neighborhood to the little girl who was shooting hoops (and hitting every basket) in St. Varta Park park that afternoon. There is still resilience and things to do and get done in Murray Hill and all over New York City.

I really had a nice time walking around Murray Hill the other day and started today with a plan to walk all the Avenues of the neighborhood. Again I was amazed how quiet the City was this afternoon but more people are starting to sit in Bryant Park and the lines for the bathrooms there (the public bathrooms there are still the best in NYC) are getting longer.

Bryant Park Bathrooms

The Bryant Park bathrooms; they should all be like this

I am starting to see tourists slowly coming back as I am seeing more selfies in Midtown. Not like Christmas (not at all) but still slowly coming back in. There are still a lot of people (masks included) walking around the City taking pictures, searching for an open restaurant and sunning themselves in the park.

Bryant Park

Bryant Park is still alive with people and flora

I started the walk today walking down Eighth Avenue to see if some of the restaurants on my ‘DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com site were still open. Restaurants have been closing like crazy but the small places still have staying power.

Check out the blog:

https://diningonashoestringinnyc.wordpress.com/

Fu Xing

Fu Xing at 273 West 38th Street

I stopped for an early morning snack at Fu Xing at 273 West 38th Street for some roast pork buns ($1.20) which they make homemade and when they come fresh out of the oven are amazing. They are soft and sweet on the outside and filled with freshly chopped roast pork. I ordered two and munched on them on the walk around Bryant Park. I was just happy that all the places in the Garment District are still open.

Fu Xing buns

The assorted buns at Fu Xing are available in the mornings and late afternoons

I took these wonderful little treats on my walk around the Garment District and back up to West 42nd Street and then cut across town back to the borders of Murray Hill. I started my walk again at the front of New York Public Library admiring the architecture of Fifth Avenue and passing it on my way to Madison Avenue.

When I was walking Fifth Avenue, even after all these years, it feels like I am seeing it for the first time. With not many people walking on the sidewalks, you have more time to look up and admire what is right in front of you. I never realized how from 34th to 42nd Streets was such a prominent shopping district before the move further up Fifth Avenue. The buildings reflect how retailers took themselves more seriously about setting up shop and how the exteriors should match the importance of the interiors. They were merchants that were there to stay (now mostly gone with the closing of Lord & Taylor).

424-434 Fifth Avenue-Lord & Taylor

The former Lord & Taylor Department Store headquarters on Fifth Avenue

Madison Avenue is still an important advertising and communications business neighborhood with many current office building renovations to workers who may or may not come back after the pandemic. It was really creepy to not see more than ten people walking down the Avenue.

I could not believe how many restaurants had closed and stores that have not reopened. The problem is that with all the office workers gone, the foot traffic during lunch went with it. So many restaurants that were packed just a few months packed up and closed. Still there are many bright spots that make Madison Avenue so unique.

The Library Hotel at 299 Madison Avenue at 41st Street is a beautiful spot on the Avenue with music drifting from the main lobby and outdoor tables from the cafe spilling on to the sidewalk with a few people dining in the early afternoon.

Library Hotel II

The Library Hotel at 299 Madison Avenue

Their outdoor restaurant, Madison & Vine is a beautiful little cafe with an interesting menu and the few people dining there looked like they were having a nice time. I will have to try it in the future.

The Library Hotel

Madison & Vine at the Library Hotel

The hotel is housed in a former office building designed in the ‘sliver design’ facing East 41st Street across the street from the New York Public Library. The hotel is designed in the ‘Neo-Gothic style’ in 1912. Many of these historic office buildings have been turned into hotels while historic hotels like The Plaza and The Waldorf-Astoria are being turned into condos.

Madison Avenue in the East 40’s is mostly office buildings but here and there are architectural gems tucked here and there left over from the Gilded Age. At 205-209 Madison Avenue is the Church of the Incarnation, an Episcopal church that was built in 1896. The original church had been built in 1865 but was destroyed by fire in 1882.

Church of the Incarnation

The Church of the Incarnation

The original design for the church was designed by architect Emlen T. Littel and after the fire all that survived were the walls and the tower. The redesign of the church was built by architect David Jardine and added many of the features seen today. Many prominent ‘old families’ of New York were parishioners here like the Sedgwick’s, Delano’s and Roosevelt’s. Take time to look at the church’s details and stained glass windows (Wiki).

Church of the Incarnation II

The church is now an historic landmark

Further down Madison Avenue are reminders of the ‘Gilded Age’ in the form of the Morgan and De Lamar mansions built at a time when money was no object and there were no income taxes. These palaces of gracious living were a reminder of people who wanted to show their place in the world and Society welcome them with open arms (if Mrs. Astor allowed it).

The De Lamar Mansion, which is now the Consulate General of the Republic of Poland of New York since 1973. was built by C. P.H. Gilbert in the ‘Beaux-Arts style’ for millionaire Joseph Raphael De Lamar, a Dutch born sea merchant who made his fortune in mining and metallurgy. The home was completed in 1905. By the time the mansion was finished, he and his wife divorced and he lived in the house for another eight years until his death in 1918. The mansion was sold by his daughter shortly after on her move to Park Avenue (Wiki).

Joseph Raphael De Lamar Mansion

The De Lamar Mansion (now the Polish Consulate) at Madison Avenue & East 37th Street

Jan Karski Statue

Jan Karski Statue outside the Consulate General of the Republic of Poland/De Lamar Mansion

The statue is of Jan Karski who was a courier who served as part of the Anti-Nazi Resistance in German occupied Poland during WWII. The statue was created by Polish artist Karol Badyna. The statue was dedicated in 2007 (Big Apple Secrets).

Karol Badyna artist

Artist Karol Badyna

https://badyna.pl/

Karol Badyna is a Polish born artist who has studied at the Post-Secondary School of Conservation of Works of Art and Sculpture at Monuments Conservation Studio in Krakow, Poland. He currently serves a Professor at the Academy of Fine Arts (Artist bio).

The Morgan Library & Library is at 225 Madison Avenue is a wonderful little museum that holds the art and library collection of J.P. Morgan, the famous banker. The museum is made up of three buildings, the original library that J.P.Morgan built before he died, the annex building where the bulk of the museum collection is located and the brownstone mansion where the Morgan Dining Room and gift shop are located.

The first part of the building was the Italianate brownstone on the corner of Madison Avenue and East 37th Street that was built by Isaac Newton Phelps in 1854 who left it to his daughter upon his death. It was bought by J.P. Morgan for his son, J.P. Morgan II who lived there from 1905-1943. It houses the Morgan Dining Room and the gift shop (Wiki).

Morgan Library & Museum X

The Morgan Library & Museum-The Phelps Mansion and the Annex

The Morgan Library’s Annex building in the middle of the Museum was built on top of the original family mansion and was built by Benjamin Wistar Morris. This is where the exhibition hall and theater is located (Morgan Library Museum).

The last part of the building is the Morgan Library that houses the manuscript collection and artworks. The building was designed in the ‘Classic Revival Style’ by Charles Follen McKim of McKim, Mead & White. The building was finished in 1907 (Wiki).

The former J. P. Morgan mansion is now the Morgan Library Museum.

Morgan Library & Museum

The Morgan Library Museum Annex and Library buildings

Morgan Library & Museum VIII

The inside of the Morgan Library Museum Annex

On the corner of Madison Avenue and East 34th is the old B. Altman Department store, the final location for the iconic department store that closed in 1989. The store was the brainchild of merchant Benjamin Altman. The store was designed by Trowbridge & Livingston in 1906-1913 expanding from Fifth to Madison Avenues. The store was designed in the ‘Italian Renaissance style’ (Wiki).

B. Altman & Co. IV

The former B. Altman & Company at the Fifth Avenue entrance

The store was known for its exclusive designs, Couture clothing, it’s elegant wooden interiors, Christmas window displays and the famous Charleston Gardens Restaurant.

Charleston Gardens at B. Altman & Company

The Charleston Gardens Restaurant at B. Altman & Company

Walking back up Madison Avenue, I notice another sculpture that popped out at me. The sculpture of “Eight” by artist Robert Indiana located in front of 261 Madison Avenue.

Eight by Robert Indiana

Eight by Robert Indiana

Artist Robert Indiana was an American born artist who was involved with the ‘Pop Art’ Movement. He studied at the Art Institute of Chicago and Edinburgh College of Art (Wiki). He looked at art with images of small town America with the visual image of High Art. The result was what he called an “verbal visual forms’ (MIA).

Robert Indiana artist

Chronology

I rounded the corner from Madison Avenue to the open blocks of lower Park Avenue seeing Grand Central guarding over the Avenue. This beautiful ‘Beaux Arts Style’ building seems to define the elegance that is Park Avenue.

Grand Central Terminal

Grand Central Station defines Park Avenue with its elegance

Just walking down Park Avenue you can see the difference in the way the Avenue portray’s itself with its elegant office buildings, Gilded Age mansions tucked here and there, private clubs and interesting pieces of street art creating an ‘open air’ museum to walk through.

Just outside of 90 Park Avenue is the interesting artwork “The Couple” by artist Arthur Carter. Mr. Carter’s extraordinary life took him from the military to Wall Street to publishing to farming to art. A Brown and Dartmouth graduate from a financial background is pretty much self-taught. His works are very impressive and this work does stand out.

Coupling

“The Couple” by artist Arthur Carter in 1999

Arthur Carter Artist

Artist Arthur Carter

http://www.arthurcarter.com/about

On the corner of Park Avenue and East 37th Street on the side of a building is the plaque for the home of the Murray family mansion (which the neighborhood is named after) ‘Inclenberg’, that once stood on the site.

Murray Hill Mansion II

The plaque to the Murray home “Inclenberg”

The Murray family were merchants and prominent business people at the time of the Revolutionary War. Robert Murray’s wife, Mary Lindley Murray, had delayed General Howe’s troops by several hours letting the Patriots escape by serving wine, tea and cake to the British soldiers and entertaining them with music and conversation (Wiki and Untapped Cities).

Murray Hill Mansion V

Mary Lindley Murray entertaining the British at her home

The Murray's home, Inclenberg

The Murray Mansion ‘Inclenberg’ now the site of Park Avenue and East 37th Street

The continued walk on Park Avenue brought me to the Union League Club at 38 East 37th Street. The club was founded in 1863 by former members of the Union Club who did not like the Pro-Southern activities of club members and created their own club with the Union League Club. The current clubhouse was designed by member Benjamin Wistar Morris and opened in 1931.

Union League Club

The elegance of the Union League Club at 38 East 37th Street

At 23 Park Avenue, another elegant mansion graces the beauty of Park Avenue and a reminder of its Gilded Age past. The home was designed by the architectural firm of McKim, Mead & White with architect Stanford White leading the design. The home was built in 1890 for retired Senator James Hampden Robb and his wife Cornelia Van Rensselaer Robb. The mansion is now a co-op (Street Easy & Wiki).

23 Park Avenue-The Cornelia Robb House

23 Park Avenue-The Cornelia Robb House.

Another Gilded Age mansion is now the Guatemala UN Mission at 57 Park Avenue was once the Adelaide T. Townsend Douglas mansion. She had been the wife of William Proctor Douglas, a Capitalist and rumored to be the mistress of J.P.Morgan, the banker. Never divorcing her husband, she continued on as a New York Socialite (Untapped Cities).

The mansion was designed by architect Horace Trumbauer in the ‘French Classical style’ and it was completed in 1911. In 1978, the house was sold after several owners to the Guatemala UN Mission as their headquarters to the United Nations (Daytonian).

57 Park Avenue-The Townsend Mansion

57 Park Avenue-Guatemala UN Mission & the former Townsend Mansion

One of the little treasures I found on Park Avenue though was the alleyway of the Church of our Savior at 59 Park Avenue. This beautiful church has hidden off to the side of the building a tiny alleyway with a garden with statues of Jesus and the Virgin Mary. It is such a nice tranquil place to relax and think that I did not want to leave. It was a relaxing reprieve from the hustle of the City.

The Church of Our Savior

The Church of Our Savior at 59 Park Avenue-Check out the garden alleyway

Another building that stands out is 41 Park Avenue owned by the Stonehenge NYC. This beautiful and elegant building was built in 1950 and has all the pre-war details.

41 Park Avenue

41 Park Avenue

I was in a mood most of the morning because of some past events of the week and as I passed a small cafe on the corner of Park Avenue and 40th Street I heard a familiar song from the 1980’s that reminded me of college and immediately put me back in a good mood. It is amazing the power of the memories of songs.

‘Once in a Lifetime’ by Talking Heads

 

I was humming all the way to Lexington Avenue. The rest of the day just seemed so much better. The song brought me back to my wonderful college years.

Lexington Avenue was quiet for most of my walk down to East 34th Street. Lexington Avenue between it and Park Avenue has some of the most beautiful brownstones on the side streets. It looks like a classic New York neighborhood. That runs between about East 40th to East 36th Streets and then gets more commercial as you get closer to 34th Street.

Murray Hill Brownstones

Murray Hill Brownstones

What I was surprised by is the amount of restaurants that closed their doors on Lexington Avenue. I never saw so many for rent signs on buildings before. Some well known neighborhood places like House of Lasagna are now shut. One restaurant going strong with outdoor dining with a creative menu is Hunan Manor at 339 Lexington Avenue. I saw some of the patrons eating outside and their Soup Dumplings and Chicken dishes that I saw people eating for lunch looked really good. Another restaurant for the bucket list.

Hunan Manor Restaurant NYC

Hunan Manor Restaurant at 339 Lexington Avenue

Walking down Lexington Avenue was very different from Fifth, Madison and Park Avenues with their unusual architecture, interesting parks and street art. It was more of a combination of low rise buildings and commercial spots. There was one standout though and that was the Sailors Club at 283 Lexington Avenue.

Soldiers, Sailors and Marines Club

283 Lexington Avenue-The Soldiers, Sailors, Marines, Coast Guard and Airmen’s Club

The Soldiers, Sailors, Marines, Coast Guard and Airmen’s Club is the only private club of its kind to provide accommodations at a subsidized rate for service men and women and retirees, veterans and their families visiting New York (Club website). The club was founded in 1919 by Cornelia Barnes Rogers and Eleanor Butler Alexander Roosevelt with General John J. Pershing. The club is housed in two 1880 twin brownstones that once served the area as upper middle class housing (Club website and Wiki). Towards 34th Street you will enter the midtown campus of Yeshiva University.

Walking back up Lexington Avenue, you can see how both Lexington and Third Avenue are quickly changing. Gone are all the low rise and smaller buildings and their businesses giving way to large office high rises and commercial spots. The small rise buildings are being razed for larger buildings.

Here and there on Third Avenue are pockets of the old neighborhood below East 38th Street but the neighborhood is changing to a more modern commercial area. There are more smaller businesses as you get closer to 34th Street. One older restaurant, Sarges Delicatessen & Diner at 548 Lexington Avenue has been around since 1964. It offers traditional deli items such as Matzo-ball Soup and over-sized sandwiches. The restaurant was the idea of retired NYPD Sargent Abe Katz, who who loved Jewish style cooking and wanted to open a deli when he retired. The family has been carrying his tradition for all these years offering many dishes made from scratch in-house (Meat & Poultry-Fox 2019).

Sarges Deli Third Avenue

Sarges Delicatessen & Diner at 548 Lexington Avenue

All around Sarges though the neighborhood continues to morph into a commercial neighborhood where skyscraper office buildings are becoming the norm. Here and there tough are little touches of artistic creativity.

The sculpture “Windward” is sitting just outside an office building at 655 Lexington Avenue by artist Jan Peter Stern.

Windward Jan Peter Stern

“Windward” at 655 Third Avenue

Jan Peter Stern was a German born American  artist who specialized in contemporary, politically influenced artist of the Post-War era. He graduated from Syracuse with a degree in Industrial Design and married to artist Irene Stern.

http://www.artatsite.com/NewYork/details/Stern_Jan_Peter_Windward_contemporary_statue_Art_at_Site_New_York.html

The changes of Lexington and Third Avenues in the East 40’s is also changing the complexity of Second Avenue as well. In the upper parts of the neighborhood, the small buildings and brownstones that set the character as one of the last bastions of ‘old New York’ are giving way to office buildings and apartment high-rises. Second Avenue to me from 100th to 34th Streets still represent ‘old New York’ to me with the smaller buildings with character and the ‘mom and pop’ stores that still line the Avenue.

In the East 30’s there are still the quintessential small brownstone and low rise buildings with many ‘for rent signs’. A lot of the smaller ‘mom and pop’ have closed with the ravages of COVID-19 or just have not reopened. Some of the smaller restaurants have opened outdoor cafes and with the NYU Langone Hospital around the corner, there is a small lunch business when I visited but most workers take their lunches to the open garden courts and then get back to work. Still there is a lot of character to this part of the neighborhood.

One of the standouts in the lower part of the Murray Hill between Second and First Avenues is St. Vartan’s Park. This small oasis of green is very popular with families in this part of the neighborhood.

St. Varta Park NYC II

St. Vartan Park is between Second and First Avenues at East 35th Street

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

https://www.nycgovparks.org/parks/st-vartan-park/history

The park is named after the Armenian Orthodox Church nearby, St. Vartan Cathedral which is a nod to the neighborhood’s Armenian heritage (NYCParks). The park has a wonderful basketball court, playground and lawn space to run around on. The bathrooms were shut which was not helpful but still a nice place to just relax under a tree.

St. Varta Armenian Church

St. Varta Armenian Church at 630 Second Avenue

It was just nice to sit and relax both when I was walking Second and First Avenues. The shade trees blocked the sun and there was nice benches to sit down on and watch everyone playing basketball and paddle ball.

What really caught my attention was at the other end of the basketball court was this little girl who could not have been older than four throwing the basketball into the adult hoop. What was amazing was that she made it every time! I could not believe it. She would just throw it and it went right into the basket with no problems. I was mystified by it all how she did it.

St. Varta Park NYC

St. Varta Park between First and Second Avenue

After some rest in the park, it was time to finish the walk with a stroll down  First Avenue which I made on my border walk of the neighborhood a few days earlier.  The upper parts of First Avenue like everything between Lexington and Second Avenue is going through a big transition and must have been before the COVID-19 pandemic with the upper sections of the neighborhood. The low-rise buildings are giving way to new office and apartment buildings that offer views of the river and the changing Brooklyn and Queens skylines.

Just like the rest of the City during the Pandemic, the Murray Hill is quietly changing and morphing into a new neighborhood. It will be interesting to see what will develop here in the future. Like a flower in the Spring, it will show its ‘true beauty’ in the future.

 

My walk of the Borders of Murray Hill on August 13th, 2020:

https://wordpress.com/block-editor/post/mywalkinmanhattan.com/14324

 

Places to Eat:

 

Fu Xing (formerly New Li Yuan)

273 West 38th Street

NYC, NY  10018

(212) 575-6978

http://www.fuxingnyc.com/

Hours: Sunday-Saturday 7:00am-5:30pm

My reviews on TripAdvisor:

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

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d12562531-Reviews-New_Li_Yuan-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

My review on DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com:

https://wordpress.com/block-editor/post/diningonashoestringinnyc.wordpress.com/149

 

Madison & Vine Restaurant at the Library Hotel

299 Madison Avenue

New York, NY 10017

(212) 867-5535

https://libraryhotel.com/en/dining.html

https://www.facebook.com/MadisonAndVine/

Open: Sunday & Saturday Closed/Monday-Friday 12:00pm-9:00pm

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d1020156-Reviews-Madison_Vine-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

 

Hunan Manor

339 Lexington Avenue

New York, NY  10016

(212) 682-2883/2886

Fax: (212) 682-2992

http://www.hunanmanornewyork.com/

Open: Sunday & Saturday 12:00pm-10:00pm/Monday-Friday 11:30am-10:00pm/Everyday from 3:00pm-5:00pm Closed.

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d2389603-Reviews-Hunan_Manor_Restaurant-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

 

Pizza & Pita

344 East 34th Street

New York, NY  10016

(212) 679-6161/(212) 679-3183

https://www.pizzaandpita.com/

Open: Sunday-Saturday 10:00am-11:00pm/Delivery until 1:30am

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d4727274-Reviews-Pizza_Pita-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

My review on DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com:

 

Sarges Delicatessen & Diner

548 Third Avenue

New York, NY  10016

(212) 679-0442

https://sargesdeli.com/

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

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d457802-Reviews-Sarge_s_Delicatessen_Diner-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

 

Places to Visit:

 

Bryant Park

Between Fifth & Sixth Avenues and 40th to 42nd Streets

New York, NY  10018

(212) 639-9675

https://bryantpark.org/

Open: Sunday-Saturday 7:00am-9:00pm

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g60763-d136347-Reviews-Bryant_Park-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

My review on VisitingaMuseum.com:

 

 

St. Vartan Park

First Avenue & East 35th Street

New York, NY  10016

(212) 639-9675

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

https://www.nycgovparks.org/parks/st-vartan-park/history

 

Morgan Library & Museum

225 Madison Avenue

New York, NY  10016

(212) 685-0008

https://www.themorgan.org/

Open: Sunday 11:00am-6:00pm/Monday Closed/Tuesday-Friday 10:30am-5:00pm/Saturday 10:00am-6:00pm

Fee: Adults $22.00/Seniors (over 65) $14.00/Current Students with ID $13.00/Free to Members and Children under 12 accompanied by a parent. Free on Friday Nights from 7:00pm-9:00pm. Discount for people with disabilities $13.00-Caregiver Free. review

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g60763-d107356-Reviews-The_Morgan_Library_Museum-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

My review on VisitingaMuseum.com:

https://wordpress.com/block-editor/post/visitingamuseum.com/5208

 

All the street art and architecture I mentioned by Avenue and by Artist. Look up and around the neighborhood when you are walking or you may miss it.