Tag Archives: The Upper East Side

Day One Hundred and Four: Walking the Streets of the Upper East Side from East 84th Street to East 72nd Streets- February 22nd-March 10th, 2018

I started walking the streets of the Upper East Side on the gloomiest misty day. After a long day at the Soup Kitchen taking tickets, I wanted to break out and do some walking. This was not the day to do it. I only got through three blocks. I was able to get through East 72nd Street after lunch, then East 73rd, 74th and 75th Streets before I called it quits. It just got so misty and then really rained. Nothing is worse than New York City in the rain when you need to be outside.

I started my after another day at Holy Apostle’s Soup Kitchen working taking tickets from the guests. I swear I think that sometimes they think it is a restaurant. Some of them get a little entitled but I understand. When you have nothing you want to have some say in something you are involved with on a daily basis. Being near the end of the month, many of them were running out of money and it got very busy. What I really like about being a part of the Soup Kitchen is not only am I giving back to the city but that in some small way I am helping deal with the homeless problem in NYC. It may not be the solution but it gives the homeless and working poor help through the process.

I started my walk with lunch at La Crosta Restaurant & Pizzeria at 436 East 72nd Street (See review on TripAdvisor & DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com). They have wonderful lunch specials and for $7.00, I ordered Spaghetti and Meatballs. It was enough to feed two people. I got what looked like almost a pound of pasta and three large meatballs and a side of bread. More than enough food for the rest of the day. Add in a meat pinwheel (made with sausage, ground meat and pepperoni $2.50), it was some meal. I have to admit though they do throw in the spices. I highly recommend the restaurant.

La Crosta Pizzeria

La Crosta Restaurant & Pizzeria

In the gloom of the walk, I have to admit that the side streets of the Upper East Side are far different of the Avenues. Most of the streets have not been plowed over for new office and apartment buildings although on some blocks it is slowly happening. The real character of the neighbors of the Upper East Side is in the side streets. Here there is still a combination of brownstones, small stone apartment buildings and on some streets wooden homes and stone carriage houses, reminiscent of and ‘Old New York’, when the wealthy used this a summer retreat and later the outer blocks from their Fifth Avenue homes to house their horses and carriages. Its ironic today how valuable and desirable these buildings are now.

Walking along East 73rd Street between Madison and Lexington Avenues you can see the carriage houses of the wealthy that have now been converted into homes. These beautiful stone structures sit gracefully, still awaiting the carriages return. I was surprised to see so many left noting most of these structures from the old Fifth Avenue mansions have been torn down.

Rounding Fifth Avenue going on to East 74th Street and Fifth Avenue, I needed to make a bathroom pit stop and walked into Central Park to the Kerbs Boathouse. This is located by the entrance near East 72nd Street and when the bathrooms are open, it has a clean, well-maintained place to do your business. The Kerbs Boathouse was built in 1954 on the site of a former wooden structure and during the summer months the pond in front of it is loaded with kids sailing motorized boats.

Kerbs Boathouse.jpg

Kerbs Boathouse Central Park

Some of the statues that surround the Conservatory pond are the famous ‘Alice in Wonderland’ located in the Margaret Delacourt Memorial that was built in 1959 by Spanish born American artist Jose de Craft. It was commissioned by George Delacorte for his wife, Margarita, who loved to read the book to her children. It is one of the most popular statues in Central Park (Central Park Conservatory).

Alice in Wonderland Statue.jpg

Alice in Wonderland Statue

‘Hans Christian Anderson’ statue that faces the other side of the pond. This statute was created in 1958 by artist Georg John Lober for the 150th Anniversary of the author’s birth. It had been commissioned by the Danish American Women’s Association in his honor. You should take some time to walk around the pond and see both statues especially the detail work of the ‘Alice in Wonderland’. These are the favorite of many adults and children alike (Central Park Conservatory).

Hans Christian Anderson.jpg

Hans Christian Anderson Statue

Before you exit the park at East 72nd Street, take a moment to look at the Waldo Hutchins Memorial as you are exiting the path up the hill. Here in certain times of the year, you can follow the shadows of the Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter Equinox and follow the shadow to the exact line that follows when the Equinox hits New York City. I am sure this is something most people miss.

By the time I rounded East 74th Street, I had had enough. The rain and mist was getting to me and I was getting tired. I doubled back to the subway and headed home. I would start the walk again later in the week.

My second day in the Upper East Side was much nicer on a sunny day and the weather was about 51 degrees F. It was perfect to walk around. I had spent the morning in Newark, NJ at the Newark Museum for the reopening of the entrance of the museum on Washington Street. It had not been opened since the early 90’s (At least as long as I have been a member and I just celebrated by 25th year . I was honored as a Museum Fellow the night before at the Annual Meeting of the Newark Museum).

It was a big to-do with high school marching bands, politicians including the Mayor of Newark and many council people and all sorts of city and museum officials. The museum put its best foot forward with reopening the museum to the city. After a few speeches, there was an official ribbon cutting ceremony and then everyone entered the museum. Since I had been here the night before for the Annual Museum Membership meeting, I had toured the whole museum including the new Mediterranean and African exhibition’s (which you should not miss). After the museum opening, I just hopped the train over to Manhattan.

Newark Museum Opening

Newark Museum Entrance Grand Opening

I took the Q train back up to the Upper East Side and walked to Fifth Avenue and continued the walk starting at the top of East 74th Street and Fifth Avenue. I wanted to see the street again without all the gloom and rain. The park still does not have that touch of Spring yet but you can see by the buds on the trees that its coming.

I passed the old carriage houses again to get a better look at the doors they use as an entrance and think what a creative layout for a house now. I bet those owners didn’t realize how trendy they would be eighty years later or that some family would be living where their horse and carriage had once been.

As I crossed onto East 75th Street, I noticed there were more carriage houses between Lexington and Madison Avenues. These must have been back to back stables for the wealthy. Outside these two rows of carriage houses and the one closer to the East River, all the rest must have been knocked down over the years.

I stopped again as I rounded East 76th Street as it was getting dark and threatening rain again. The weather has been such a mixed bag in the month of March and I didn’t want to risk it.

I doubled back up Lexington Avenue to the Burger One Coffee Shop at 1150 Lexington Avenue (See review on TripAdvisor and DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com). I had passed the restaurant as I criss-crossed the neighborhood and watched how the cook was making everything through the window.  I had a cheeseburger with fries ($8.00) that was one of the best burgers I had had in a long time. Freshly scooped from fresh ground meat and cooked on the grill right in front of me. The right amount of carmelization and perfectly cooked. Everything on the menu is below $10.00.

Burger One Restaurant.jpg

Burger On Restaurant

The next day I spent the morning in Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen again working in the prep kitchen. There was a lot of bonding while I cut up eight boxes of chicken breasts and helped prepare some frozen vegetables. I swear we are always busy there but the numbers never seem to reflex it. We only did 875 lunches for guests.

I headed uptown on the Q subway and made from the 72nd Street stop and walked up to East 76th Street. This area of the neighborhood is dominated by the hospitals.  Lenox Hill Hospital sits at the head of the neighborhood starting at Park Avenue and I swear it is always busy here. As you head further down East 76th Street, it is a sea of graceful brownstones and marble homes. Take time to look at the detail work on the buildings and you will see the craftsmanship of a different era when time was spent making these masterpieces.

One of the more interesting buildings on 77th Street is at 459 East 77th Street. It is a home with the accents of a former church. You can see how they redesigned it keeping the detail work as part of the home. As you head toward John Jay Park at the end of the block note that the bathrooms are open until 5:00pm. By the early afternoon, school let out and the park was dominated by kids, nannies and parents just trying to relax. On a clear day, the view to Roosevelt Island is dominate and take time to really see what the island has to offer.

John Jay Park

John Jay Park

When rounding the block onto East 78th Street, you get to see the beauty of the Gilded Age’ mansions starting with the old James Duke mansion on the corner of the block off Fifth Avenue. The home had built in 1912 by architect Horance Trumbauer and had been copied from a French Hotel. It has replaced another mansion on the same site.

I had read online after the death of James B. Duke, both Doris Duke and her mother decided to donate the mansion to New York University in 1954. It now houses the NYU Institute of Arts.

Duke Mansion

Duke Mansion Fifth Avenue

The old Payne Whitney Mansion also on Fifth Avenue serves as the French Consulate. It was built by Stamford White in 1906 for Payne Whitney and his wife, Helen.  After their deaths, the home became the consulate.

These mansions are part of the line of ‘Gilded Age’ mansions that line East 79th Street between Fifth Avenue and Park Avenue. Homes like this have disappeared off Fifth Avenue, being knocked down for apartment buildings or have been converted into stores, museums or consulates. Still the workmanship and the stone work on these buildings are impressive and you really need to notice the detail work.

Mansions on 79th Street

Gilded Age mansions on East 79th Street

other beautiful homes to look over are the brownstones that line 210-216 East 78th Street. There is such magnificent detail work to these brick row houses that all sit in a line on the south side of the street between Park and Lexington Avenues. They have a New England feel to them. Most of East 78th Street is line with a juxtapose of different style homes and really shows its uniqueness from block to block on the way to East End Avenue.

There are some interesting stores along East 78th Street, one of them being the Tiny Doll House at 314 East 78th Street. This unique store is the last of its kind in New York City according to the owner. The store is filled to the brim with dollhouses and furniture and accessories for them. There is even handmade items locked behind cases in the store for the collector who knows quality. Even the food for the tables looks real.

Tiny Doll House

Tiny Doll House Store

Turning the corner at East 80th Street, you really see some impressive old mansions. First there is the Vincent Astor mansion at 130 East 80th Street. The house was built by architect Mott B. Schmidt for Mr. Astor in the early 1900’s and upon his death traded hands until the New York Junior League bought the house in 1947 who owns it now. The house has a graceful elegance to it.

A few doors down is the George and Martha Whitney home at 120 East 80th Street. Built by the firm of Cross & Cross this elegant was built in 1930 but harks back to a time of a more Federalist look with the brick face and portical in the front.

Towards the end of the block, you are treated to Lester’s Department Store. I walked the whole store and was impressed by their assortment of children’s and teen wear. It reminded me of a ‘preppie’ clothing store of the 70’s and 80’s. They even have a camp registry. I thought about the lucky kids who got to buy their clothes here before spending their summer away from their parents. Who really lucks out in that situation?

Lester's.jpg

Lester’s

I finally had to stop at Lexington and East 81st Street as it was getting dark. I never can believe how long it takes to walk these streets especially on this side of time. I took a second trip to Burger One on Lexington Avenue and had dinner this time trying their turkey club sandwich with fries ($9.50). It was excellent.

The sandwich was made with fresh turkey and the tomatoes were ripe. I could barely finish it. This is when I added to my blog, ‘DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com. This is a place everyone should know about. I just thought it was funny the way they looked at me when I walked in. With all the hundreds of customers they must have one of the owners gave me a happy but suspicious look when I walked in for a second time. I thought how could she remember me.

My last day of walking the neighborhood, I had taken a walking tour at the Metropolitan Museum of Art on Fifth Avenue and 79th Street of one of the galleries. I love the Met. You can get lost in it for the entire day and never see everything. We were doing a tour of the American Galleries and looking over some of the famous paintings. After the tour, I just wanted to get some air and finished this part of the neighborhood.

I started by double backing on East 84th Street and remembered that I had done most of this area in the Fall. It is amazing how fast time goes. I turned the corner onto East 83rd Street and walked towards Madison Avenue and stopped in Sugarfina at 1100 Madison Avenue. This is a whirlwind of sweets with a creative twist to the packaging and a price to match. Everything here is very expensive for a piece of candy. They let me have a sample of the sample of the candy, this is more of a business account store. Still the packaging is great.

As you walk down East 83rd Street, take a look up and admire 222 East 83rd Street. The brick work and landscaping makes this home really stand out among the bigger apartment buildings on this part of the block.

There are two places you should not miss when walking East 82nd Street. One is the Hungarian House at 213 East 82nd Street. The beauty of this brick building is matched by its mission of being the center point of Hungarian-American culture and relations. It really does offer a lot of programming while being a center point of Hungarian culture in New York City.

Hungarian House.jpg

Hungarian House

Around the corner from the Hungarian House is the original Ottomanelli Brothers Butcher Shop at 1549 York Avenue. The store has been a neighborhood staple since 1900 and has all sorts of wonderful meats, pastas and groceries that you might need as well as a hot food section that many patrons were taking advantage of when I visiting that afternoon.

Another gem of a store I discovered when I was finishing East 81st Street was Art for Eternity at 303 East 81st Street. This unique art gallery offers a selection of Pre-Colombian Art of museum quality. I saw many interesting bowls and vases. When talking with gallery Director Howard Nowes, he gave me a detailed tour of the works, showing me the detail work of many pieces and explaining their purpose. It was like being back at the Met.

Art for Eternity II

Art for Eternity

I ended my last day in the neighborhood at another early morning tour at the Met, seeing the new Pre-Columbian exhibition, “The Art of Luxury”, which showcases the treasures of early American art. My last lunch on the Upper East Side was at Harbs at 1374 3rd Avenue near 78th Street. It is a cross between an English and Japanese bakery shoppe. They have a wonderful lunch special for $20.00 (See my review on TripAdvisor). The meal consisted a large cup of English tea, for lunch two Croque-Monsieur (a grilled ham and cheese sandwich with mustard butter) with a side salad with buttermilk dressing and for dessert, a small slice of Mocha cake which was layered with a rich mocha creme. It was a great meal with excellent service.

Harbs II

Harb’s

Not such a bad way to end my walk on the Upper East Side.

 

How to get there:

The Subways The 6 & Q trains

 

Places to shop:

 

The Tiny Doll House

314 East 78th Street

New York, NY  10075

http://www.tinydollhouseny.com

Review on LittleShoponMainStreet@Wordpress.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/littleshoponmainstreet.wordpress.com/25

(212) 744-3719

 

Art for Eternity

303 East 81st Street

New York, NY  10028

http://www.artforeternity.com

(212) 472-5171

My review on LittleShoponMainStreet@Wordpress.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/littleshoponmainstreet.wordpress.com/30

 

Sugarfina

1100 Madison Avenue

New York, NY  10028

madison@sugarfina.com

(This location is now closed down)

 

Lester’s Department Store

1534 2nd Avenue

New York, NY  10021

(212) 734-9292

http://www.lesters.com

My review on LittleShoponMainStreet@Wordpress.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/littleshoponmainstreet.wordpress.com/194

 

Where to eat:

La Crosta Restaurant & Pizzeria

436 East 72nd Street

New York, NY  10021

(212) 472-5004

My review on TripAdvisor:

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

My review on DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com:

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

 

Harbs

1374 3rd Avenue

New York, NY  10075

(646) 896-1511

http://www.harbsnyc.com

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d9455491-Reviews-Harbs-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

My review on LittleShoponMainStreet@Wordpress.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/littleshoponmainstreet.wordpress.com/71

 

Burger One Coffee Shop

1150 Lexington Avenue

New York, NY  10075

(212) 737-0095

http://www.burger1nyc.com

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d550667-Reviews-Burger_One-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

My review on DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/diningonashoestringinnyc.wordpress.com/560

 

What to see:

The Alice in Wonderland Statue

The Hans Christian Anderson Statue

Central Park at 72nd Street

 

Gilded Age Mansions

East 79th Street from Fifth Avenue to Madison Avenue

 

John Jay Park

FDR Drive between East 78th and 76th Streets

New York, NY  10021

(212) 794-6566

https://www.nycgovparks.org/parks/john-jay-park-and-pool

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Day Eighty-Nine: Walking the Avenues of Yorkville/Carnegie Hill from Madison Avenue to East End Avenue 96th-84th Streets August 28-September 5, 2017

After a long day in the Soup Kitchen prepping vegetables for future meals, I started my day uptown at the Samuel Seabury Park on 96th Street off the 6 subway line. It is a good place for a bathroom break in the area with the other being the Samuel Isaacs Park on 96th Street and 1st Avenue. There are not too many public bathrooms in this area.

Stanley Isaacs Playground

Stanley Isaacs Playground

The one thing I might want to mention that I am beginning to notice and it is not just in the poorer areas is that number of empty store fronts as well as the closing of many older businesses that I had seen in the area from the 80’s and 90’s. I guess the 20 year leases are coming up and they are jacking the rents up sky-high in some areas. When Ottomanelli’s Restaurant, which had been in this neighborhood since 1902 closes, you know there is a problem ( I think they may be camping further uptown now).

The businesses again change closer to the housing complexes with smaller more reasonable restaurants around 2nd and 1st Avenues. This is not a section with lots of upscale shops and restaurants though I think some of the prices at the restaurants are due to the ongoing raise in the rents in the area.

The neighborhood is very diverse in its housing stock depending on the block and in its businesses. Being so close to Central Park gives you a sense of green though there are many nice smaller parks in the neighborhood. Though it is an expensive neighborhood I am sure it is not as expensive as its southern neighbors on this side of the park.

The number 6 subway will take you directly to Samuel Seabury Park at 96th Street, the start of many bathroom breaks. When you are walking the Avenues on the East Side, you need to know where the public bathrooms are located. This is a very active park during the school year. I would think that the city would have these bathrooms in better condition though.

The park is named after the late Judge Samuel Seabury who roots laid in Colonial Manhattan and had fought the corruption of Tammany Hall. Who knew a late Judge could still be so helpful many years later.

Samuel Sebury.jpg

Judge Samuel Seabury

Madison Avenue has its unique boutique-ness to it especially further downtown. Above 85th Street, it is more localized shops and restaurants. I had discovered that many businesses from the early 90’s like Sarabeth’s Kitchen were still operating (at much higher prices than I remembered).

One of the most beautiful and unique buildings on Madison Avenue is the Hunter College building at East 94th Street, which looks like a castle. The building is now used for the Hunter College High School and Elementary School, considered one of the best public schools in the city and you need a special test to get into it. The building itself, built as the Squad A Armory in 1896, previously called the Madison Avenue Armory building, resembles a castle. It is constructed out of red bricks and was partially demolished in the 1960’s but bought by Hunter College for the expanding school. Take a good look around the grounds, there is a real beauty in this enchanted castle housing some of the brightest kids in New York City.

Madison Avenue from 96th Street to 84th Street houses lots of local boutiques and restaurants and a few smaller hotels tucked here and there. The buildings are mostly prewar apartment buildings with some new construction thrown in here and there. Its the Upper East Side without the pretension.

Park Avenue is what Park Avenue does best below 98th Street, is an elegant enclave of prewar and turn of the last century apartment buildings with very little business or retail outside of the doctors offices. The Avenue is lined with elegant, old-world buildings with the well-manicured gardens of the street ‘mall’ going from the top of the railroad tracks on 98th Street down to the border of the neighborhood on 84th Street. The mall was ablaze with red and white flowers for the late summer blooms. I don’t think this area has changed much since the 1920’s.

The Avenue was quiet that afternoon less the preppie teenagers walking with their sports gear and mom’s and nannies wheeling kids around. There is always a certain feel to this part of Park Avenue, quiet, elegant and sedate. I am sure its not that way in real life but that is the way it appears to the average person walking down the sidewalk.

One standout building on Park Avenue amongst all the elegant apartment buildings is the Lewis Gouvenour House at 85th Street. The house was named for its owner, a failed investment banker who was related to a signer of the Declaration of Independence. The house is a red brick neo-Federalist building that was completed in 1914 and it stands out amongst all the apartment buildings in the area. The latest article I read is that the house is up for sale for $8 million dollars but I swear that I saw a cook and maid looking me over when I looked over the house so I am sure it has been sold by this point. Someone was even hanging over the windows cleaning them as I passed.

Lewis Governour House.jpg

Lewis Gouvenour House on Park Avenue

After turning the corner at 84th Street, I walked over to Lexington Avenue and it is night and day to the enclaves of 5th and Park Avenues. Talk about a busy commercial street. This is where you are seeing changes in the feel of the neighborhood. Many of the retail spaces that I have remembered that were there for years when I moved back to the area in 2001 are long gone. A lot of the neighborhood has been knocked down and many new residential and office buildings have replaced them. Some of my favorite bakeries and pizzeria’s are also long gone. Still my favorite Panera on 86th Street is still there for the Asiago and Cinnamon Crunch bagels that I love to snack on while on my way to the Met (it’s now gone as of 2018).

Here and Third Avenue is where you start to see the ‘For Rent’ signs. It is sad that so many businesses that have been here for twenty years, the leases are coming up and the rise in rents is just sky high for the new owners. I have read more articles on the prices that they want in rent and there is no way the average business can handle this. Even some of the chain restaurants have left the area. If you do not own the building, forget it.

Third Avenue above 90th Street, you will start to see a lot of new construction, as a lot more buildings are going up on both sides of the street.  The Upper East Side is slowly crawling into this area and a lot of the older smaller buildings are starting to disappear. The store fronts between 90th and 93rd are starting to empty as all the older restaurants have closed their doors.

Second Avenue is changing as well in the area of 90th Street and above. This has a totally different feel then the neighborhood above in East Harlem. Slowly though, these neighborhoods are starting to merge as new construction on Second and First Avenue below 96th Street changes from housing projects to private apartment buildings. Even the brownstones are giving way to larger apartment buildings, which is starting to change the character of the neighborhood. It’s a lot of sameness.

I ended the second day in the neighborhood having a late lunch at East Garden Chinese Restaurant at 1685 First Avenue & 88th Street (See review on TripAdvisor). This little hole in the wall Chinese restaurant has lunch specials for $5.95 and a very nice variety of dishes. I had the General Tso’s chicken combination plate with fried rice and a Coke that cost $7.00 with tax and I just about finished it. The chicken was excellent. It was well cooked and the sauce had some pinch to it. The fried rice was less to be desired but overall the meal was very good for the end of this first long walk of the neighborhood.

East Garden Chinese Restaurant.jpg

East Garden Chinese Restaurant

On the second day of the walk, I revisited Second and First Avenues and covered the rest of the neighborhood that include York, Henderson and East End Avenues as well as walking around Carl Schurz Park for a second time.

I finished up Second Avenue for a second time, looking over the businesses and parks. Slowly I noticed as I looked at menu’s of restaurants and the types of stores opening up that a lot of the mom and pop stores are giving way to more chains and the restaurants are getting awfully expensive even this high up.

There are a few hold outs in way of Chinese restaurants especially closer to the Samuel Isaacs Complex on 96th and First Avenue but even around the projects there soon won’t be too many affordable places to eat. I mean come on, $16.00 for a hamburger? Its a hamburger at the end of the day. For a reasonable meal, you will have to walk up above 100th Street.

There are several little surprises as you walk around the neighborhood. Behind the Ruppert Apartment Buildings on Third Avenue is the Ruppert Park between 90th and 91st Streets, which offered a place of rest after walking around. This block long park must have been a negotiation between the city and the developer to build these huge apartment buildings and the neighborhood really benefited from it. It is a nice meeting place for residents to talk and walk their dogs. Many of the neighborhood seniors seem to like to sit on the benches and talk to their friends. The playground is nice for the kids as they were out in full force before the first day of school started a few days later.

Ruppert Park.jpg

Ruppert Park

Tucked away on a side street on 91st Street across from the park, this is a plaque dedicated to James Cagney, the actor and singer, who later played tough guys in the movies. He must have lived in this area growing up.

First Avenue is starting to give way from brownstones to apartment buildings in the 90’s and up. On the lower part, the chain stores are starting to dominate while the mom and pop stores still are holding on. There still are a few German restaurants in the neighborhood but they seem few and far between on the Avenues. Its mostly small businesses and a few small shops.

York Avenue and East End Avenue are both tucked below the Asphalt Green playground and recreational area below FDR Drive and 92nd Street. The three days that I walked around the neighborhood, Asphalt Green was crowded with kids playing all sorts of sports, basketball, soccer or even playing Frisbee. The shocking part was getting an ice from the lady selling Spanish ices. Below 96th Street, they start charging $2.00 instead of $1.00 like above 100th Street. I guess they see us coming.

York Avenue is one of those places that looks like New York City with the combination of apartment buildings that look like they are out of the 70’s, elegant but not pretentious and the area looked lived in like the residents have lived there for 40 years. There is a mix of building types that gives the Avenue some character and tucked here and there are small apartment buildings and brownstones.

East End Avenue is dominated by Carl Schurz Park where Gracie Mansion is located. Around the park, there are several beautiful brownstones especially between 86th and 87th Street that give the park that extra graciousness. These brick buildings are carefully maintained and beautifully landscaped and mirror the park across the street.

The small side streets south of the park such as the extension of 84th Street (Gracie Place) house old apartment buildings with excellent views of the park and very nosey doorman, who watched me watching them. Sometimes I wonder what impression I give these people that they stare so much at me or maybe after a year in Harlem, I am getting used to the inquisitive looks.

As I finished up the Avenues in Yorkville/Carnegie Hill, I just relaxed for the rest of the afternoon in Carl Schurz Park, looking at Randalls-Ward Island and Astoria Queens in the distance and admiring the breathtaking view of the river. This section of the park along the river walkway is so picturesque and relaxing. Labor Day had such wonderful weather and it was such a clear sunny day, that is was nice to just sit on a bench and watch the world go by.

Carl Schurz Park II.jpg

Carl Schurz Park

All along the river, jet skis zoomed by and an occasional sailboat passed by as well. It was one of those afternoons you see in movies about New York City but sometimes never experience. All I could think about as I was watching the world go by is that this is what people think New York is and they are right. This location on the bend of the river on a nice day you have to experience for yourself to understand how great it is. What was a nice touch was that two people playing the cello and the violin came into the park to perform and collect money. That’s the real New York.

I ended the day eating a late lunch/dinner at a restaurant on Second Avenue named Shorty’s at 1678 First Avenue (See review on TripAdvisor), which is known for their Philly Cheesesteaks. It was pretty good for New York City, where you have to hop the Acela down to Center City for a Cheesesteak at Carmine’s in the Reading Market. Here the bartender told me that they import the hoagie rolls from Philly and cook it on the flat grill and top with Cheese Wiz (God, do I love that on a sandwich). For the $10.00 price and a side of Bay Seasoning fries, it was well-worth the money. It saved the $200.00 trip to Philly I would soon have to make and that chewy cheesy sandwich was a great way to end my trip of the Avenues of the neighborhood. Now the streets await.

Places to Visit:

Carl Schurz Park

East 84th to East 87 Streets and the East River

New York, NY  10128

https://www.carlschurzparknyc.org/

Open: Sunday-Saturday 6:00am-12:00am

My review on VisitingaMuseum.com:

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

 

Ruppert’s Park

1741 Second Avenue

New York, NY  10128

https://www.nycgovparks.org/parks/ruppert-park

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

 

Gracie Mansion

East 88th Street

New York, NY  10028

(212) 676-3060

https://www1.nyc.gov/site/gracie/visit/visit.page

Open: Monday 10:00am-12:00pm/5:00pm-6:00pm/Wednesday 10:30am-12:30pm

My review on TripAdvisor:

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

My review on VisitingaMuseum.com:

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

 

Places to Eat:

Shorty’s
1678 First Avenue
New York, NY  10128

(212) 348-2300

Open: Sunday-Saturday 4:00pm-12:00am

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d10701466-Reviews-Shorty_s-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

 

East Garden Chinese Restaurant
1685 First Avenue
New York, NY 10128

(212) 831-5900

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d12860202-Reviews-East_Garden_Chinese_Restaurant-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

My review on DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/diningonashoestringinnyc.wordpress.com/489

Day Eighty-Eight: Walking the Border of Yorkville/Carnegie Hill: East 96th Street to East 84th Street and from Central Park West to FDR Drive August 25, 2017

 

I finally got out of Harlem and into the Upper East Side. This area is the border neighborhood between East Harlem and the Upper East Side (or as people used to say before gentrification of the Island of Manhattan, the Upper Upper East Side). Most people consider anything below 98th Street on the East Side of Manhattan and East of Central Park as the Upper East Side. However you call it, you are now out of Harlem.

The mood of the area is even different. It was like when I was crossing 155th Street from Washington Heights to Harlem months before. The mood of the area and its residents starts to change. It becomes the Woody Allen Upper East Side. Again just like Manhattan Valley on the West Side, there is still a very 70’s and 80’s feel to the neighborhood. Its got a more a middle class vibe to it and watching the kids at play you can still see that independent streak in them.

There are none of the expensive restaurants and boutiques that you see below 80th Street. The feel of the businesses is more local. Even the Isaacs Housing complex looks more upscale then the projects a few blocks up and their residents have their own security watch (the guy asked me what I was doing there and no one ever asked me anything when I walked through the projects before).

The walk along FDR Drive esplanade has some view.  The shore line of Queens is really changing. There is a lot of development around the East River and what a beautiful view of the river and the rising skyline in the background. The esplanade stops around 90th Street for renovation and then continues once you pass Gracie Mansion.

Carl Schurz Park (See review on TripAdvisor and VisitingaMuseum.com), where Gracie Mansion is located is a nice place to just relax and watch the boats pass by. You get the nicest views of Randalls-Ward Island and of Lighthouse Park on Roosevelt Island (I never knew there was a lighthouse over here). The developers are creating a new ‘Gold Coast’ along the Queens-Brooklyn riverfront.

Carl Schurz Park IV

Carl Schulz Park in the Spring

It was nice to just relax and watch the water. The kids are in full force at this park like many parks around the city and it looks like they are trying to enjoy their last days of freedom before the school years starts in two weeks. Kids were playing basketball, Frisbee, roller skating and just chasing one another. It was nice to see kids not using cellphones.

The homes along this part of Manhattan were a combination of brownstones and prewar apartments but all along the Avenues, you are seeing more and more new construction. All sorts of new apartment and office buildings are being built along 1st, 2nd and 3rd Avenues. The businesses are more local than chains,  giving you a peak at time before the late 90’s exploded with the chain stores all over Manhattan. It is funny that I remember a time everyone in the city complained that the chains would not even come to the city now in 2017 they complain that they are taking over the city.

The border of Yorkville, 84th Street, is lined with many brownstone type buildings and private homes along with a series of small restaurants and shops worth exploring. Many are businesses that have been open for years such as Dorrian’s restaurant since 1960. It harks back to when the Upper East Side was the land of preppies.

When you reach 5th Avenue, the area between 84th Street and 96th Street is lined with museums giving name to ‘Museum Row’ starting with the Metropolitan Museum of Art at the corner of 84th Street passing the Jewish Museum, Guggenheim Museum and many others, which will be fun to explore. Many of the smaller museums of the city line this area as well so I passed names I had never heard of before.

Museum Mile.jpg

Museum Mile

At 91st and 5th Avenue along the wall of Central Park is a memorial to W.T. Stead, a journalist who died in the Titanic. He was a English journalist best known for being an investigative journalist, better known as a gossip columnist. The funny part of his going down in the Titanic is that he had written that he might die in a drowning and wrote two fictional articles before the tragedy about ships colliding at sea and another about a ship that sinks without enough life boats to save everyone. Maybe he just saw his fate. He was into spiritualism, which was fashionable at the time and maybe someone hinted to him.

W.T. Stead.jpg

W.T. Stead Memorial

Mr. Stead’s memorial is one of many that line Central Park that most people don’t even notice.  The park is loaded with statues and memorials that most New Yorkers just pass by without a moments notice. It makes one wonder why they would put this here.

There are glorious views of the reservoir at 90th Street and 5th Avenue that you should not miss. Just walking in the park to see the gardens is worth the trip inside Central Park. Most of the gardens are still in bloom and the park is loaded with tourists milling around the waterfront.

Central Park Resevoir.jpg

Central Park Reservoir

Walking up 5th Avenue along the park at 96th and 5th Avenue, there is a statue of Albert Bertel Thorvaldsen in a small enclosure on the edge of the park before you enter it. This bronze, life-sized sculpture is a self-portrait of the esteemed Danish sculptor and was dedicated in Central Park in 1894. It is the only statue of an artist displayed in the parks of New York City and honors a titan in his field who had broad influence in sustaining the classical tradition in art (NYC Parks Department-Central Park).

Albert Bertel

Albert Bertel Thorvaldesen statue
As I was walking across 96th Street to finish the upper part of the neighborhood, I had a sudden craving for a sandwich and walked up to Moe’s Grocery Inc. at 1968 3rd Avenue, which I had eaten in before (See review on TripAdvisor & my blog, ‘DiningonaShoeStringinNYC’). They have the best special, a chopped cheese on a hoagie roll and a Coke for $3.00. Ever on the budget, their chopped cheese rivals Haiji’s (Blue Sky Deli) up on 110th Street.

Moe's Grocery Inc.

Moe’s Grocery in East Harlem, the best lunch specials

I thought I had asked for lettuce and tomato on the sandwich so add another $1.50 to it but when I sat down to eat it at the park at 96th Street, they were not on it. I was a little pissed at paying for something I did not get but the sandwich was so good, I did not mind. It is worth the walk up a few extra blocks to 108th Street for the sandwich. You will also see the distinction of the neighborhoods just by crossing 98th Street (See the previous walk in East Harlem). The sandwich is so loaded with beef and gooey cheese that it makes the nicest meal during this long walk and nothing is better than a Coke on a hot day.

I ended this part of the walk by rounding East End Avenue and relaxing at Carl Schurz Park, which is a true delight. What a beautifully landscaped park with paths of picturesque gardens and statues and active playgrounds with screaming children. The nice part is the bathrooms here are decent and you have a working water fountain, with lots of cold water. It was fun to explore the paths going up and down the landscaped paths.

Carl Schurz Park III

Carl Schulz Park

Security is heavy at the northern part of the park where Gracie Mansion is located, the Mayor’s residence. There are NYPD cars all over the place so try not to dwell too long in this area not to get the attention of the police officers. You can’t even see the mansion any more because of the fencing around the house. This was the former summer residence of Archibald Gracie, a well-known Scottish born, American merchant, who was partners with Alexander Hamilton.

Gracie mansion

Gracie Mansion

He built the house in 1798 as a summer home and entertained the elite at that time in Manhattan, including John Quincy Adams. Gracie’s daughter Eliza Gracie-King was one of the great social leaders at the time until Mrs. Astor took the throne during the ‘Gilded Age’. The house was sold in 1823 to pay off debts owed by Mr. Gracie and it was bought by New York City in 1896 due to back taxes by the then owners. It has been used as a concession stand for the park as well as the first home of the Museum of the City of New York. In 1942, the house was renovated and became the residence of Florio LaGuardia, the Mayor of New York and thus became the residence of future New York City mayors NYC Parks Department).

Archiebald Gracie

Archibald Gracie

I had taken a tour of the mansion years earlier with the Cornell and Harvard Clubs when we had a historical tea at the house. Mayor Bloomberg did not live in the house at the time so it was used primarily for entertaining. We had a wonderful afternoon tea at the at the house and then a formal tour of the public rooms and gardens. It has the most amazing views of ‘Hell Gate’, a bend in the river along the esplanade, that has some of the roughest waters in the East River. The house does get a nice breeze.

After a long rest on the benches outside the park, I walked over to the Metropolitan Museum of Art to spend the rest of the evening. The Met, as its called, is open until 9:00pm on Fridays and Saturdays, so you get to listen to the music in ‘The Balcony’ restaurant or just tour the galleries. It gave me a chance to see the Greek Galleries again and walk around the Central American exhibitions. It is so nice to walk in the galleries when it is not busy. It was a nice way to end the evening.

Greek Galleries.jpg

The Greek Galleries at the Met

 

Places to Visit:

Gracie Mansion

East 88th and East End Avenue

New York, NY  10028

https://www1.nyc.gov/site/gracie/about/about.page

(212) 570-4773

Open: Mondays only: 10:00am, 11:00am and 5:00pm for tours

My review on TripAdvisor:

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

My review on VisitingaMuseum:

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

 

Carl Schulz Park

East 84th to East 90th Avenues & East End Avenue

New York, NY  10028

https://www.carlschurzparknyc.org/

Open: 6:00am-12:00pm

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g60763-d312015-Reviews-Carl_Schurz_Park-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

My review on VisitingaMuseum.com:

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

 

Metropolitan Museum of Art

1000 Fifth Avenue

New York, NY 10028

1-800-622-3397

https://www.metmuseum.org/

Open: Sunday-Thursday 10:00am-5:30pm/Friday & Saturday 10:00am-9:00pm

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g60763-d105125-Reviews-The_Metropolitan_Museum_of_Art-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

 

Central Park Reservoir

86th- 96th Streets in Central Park

Open: When the park is open

http://www.centralparknyc.org/things-to-see-and-do/attractions/reservoir.html

 

Places to Eat:

Moe’s Grocery

1968 Third Avenue

New York, NY   10029

(212) 289-0999

Open: 12:00pm-11:59pm

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d12845802-Reviews-Moe_s_Grocery_Inc-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

My review on DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/diningonashoestringinnyc.wordpress.com/324

 

Day Sixty-Six: Exploring the new Q subway line up Second Avenue (Shhhhhh) January 27th, 2017

I had some business to do uptown on my way back from Chinatown in Lower Manhattan and had to go to the Metropolitan Museum of Art for the afternoon, so I decided to check out the new Q line stops along the new Second Avenue line. The Q line runs all the way from Coney Island with me picking it up on Canal Street. What an amazing trip!

The new construction of the subway lines has been in the works for almost a hundred years and has recently completed four stops along the Second Avenue line that make travelling to uptown Manhattan a real pleasure. The fact that not too many people have caught on to the line yet makes it even better as there is plenty of room to sit down on the brand new cars and you are not squeezing in like on the number 6 line. If you have ever been on the Number 6 subway in Manhattan at rush hour, you know what I am talking about. Sardines are not squeezed in like this.

I have been on the line twice since it has opened and what a pleasure it is to get a seat and relax instead of someone pushing into your back for a three stop trip to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The subway car is one of the new ones with the blue seats you do not have to squeeze into and you can see and hear all the announcements. The old joke of everyone is ‘mumbling’ over the speaker is still true on most subway cars in the city. With all the racket going on between the cars, the speakers and the occasional person singing and dancing in the subway car (I don’t think they have discovered them yet), you can’t hear a thing. It is so nice to read the paper in peace on this line.

It is interesting to note that they have been trying to build this part of the subway since 1919. This first phase of the subway route was conceived when it was realized that the ‘Fourth Avenue line’ was over-crowded and needed to ease the congestion.  In 1927, a rapid transit plan was put out that called for a six-track Second Avenue subway line. These plans were abandoned with the Great Depression in favor for completing the IND line. It was revisited again in the 40’s then World War Two broke out.

In 1965, one year after the Urban Mass Transit Act mandated that federal funding be made available for transit programs, the MTA was founded. The Second Avenue Subway plan was proposed  in 1968 with one two-track line stretching from 34th Street to the Bronx. The city broke down in 1972 when the city was granted $25 million in Federal funding. Construction started at East 103rd Street and Second Avenue but construction was halted in 1975 due to the Financial Crisis and the project was abandoned again with only three little tunnels between Chatham Square and Canal Street, 99th, 105th and 110th and 120th Streets. (New York Magazine and Gothamist.com 2016)

With Environmental Impact Studies done in 2004, the project was planned in four phases to be completed between 2004 and 2006.  Ground was broken for Phase One in 2007 at 99th/101st Street and the project was to done in four phases with the first to go from 63rd Street to 96th Streets. Phase Two has been planned to start in 2019 with the line expanding to 125th Street with the last two Phases expanding down to Lower Manhattan. This will create the T Line while bringing back the W Line to Queens. All of this will alleviate the traffic on the 6 Line. (New York Magazine, Gothamist.com).

The best part of the subway line on top of the cleanliness is the artwork. The MTA Art & Design had four different artists create the work for the four completed lines. This creativity starts at 96th Street as you enter the subway with a combination of steel and blue lights and take the escalator down a futuristic tunnel down to the platform and you gaze upon the artwork of artist Sarah Sze. When you see the work from the subway platform, it almost looks like flying papers outside. When you walk the whole platform, you see what she is trying to achieve.

Her ‘Blueprint for a Landscape’ when completed with tile masters from Spain who used porcelain to produce the work. It takes a few walks around to see the true detail of the work. The work is made up of fragmented images of scaffolding, birds, chairs and leaves. It is like being outside in a wind storm. The main body of work on the platform you can see the papers flying around and as you take the escalator up, you see the blue and white scaffolding, which took me two trips to figure out what is was. Off to the side, you see the birds in flight. It is like seeing a day in New York City with the different aspects of the city flying by. The most touching part is the ‘Subway’ poem by Billy Collins (born 1941).

Subway

As you fly swiftly underground

with a song in your ears

or lost in a maze of a book

remember the ones who have descended here

into the mire of bedrock

to bore a hole through this granite

to clear a passage for you

where there was only darkness and stone

remember as you come up into the light

A touching poem to match the beauty of the art work.

At the 86th Street stop you will be dazzled by the artwork of one of my favorite artists, Chuck Close. I had marveled at his artwork when I lived in Chicago at the Contemporary Museum. You always know his work by the powerful real life images that he presents. He created 12 large-scale works that spread throughout the platforms. Really look at the artwork and you will see that they are made of tiny mosaic pieces.

It was also the detailed construction of these pieces and the work that went into creating them that is impressive. There are even two self-portraits of Mr. Close in the station proudly pronouncing his work to subway riders. Take the time to really look at the details of each piece even when security looks at you funny (as they did with me twice).

At 72nd Street, Brazilian artist, Vic Muniz has created a series called “Perfect Strangers” with portraits of real New Yorkers. There are portraits of men holding hands, a policeman holding a popsicle and a man chasing flying papers, who I have read is the artist himself. The artist created this work based on staged photographs on people he knows.

Again really look at the details that created these works. I almost immediately thought I was going crazy when I thought one of them was Daniel Boulud, the famous chef holding a fish in a bag until I read later on that it was him. To see him immortalized in a subway station artwork I thought was a real testament to him as a chef.

The 63rd Street station is not modernistic as the other three stations but still has a sense of newness to it. It is also kept so clean now to match the other stations. Artist Jean Shin work is featured at this station. You really have to go outside the station to see the just of her work which was quoted as being inspired by the idea of illustrating the demolition of the Second and Third Avenue elevated lines.

Her more geometric pieces really show the metal work of a different era as well as her work was based on when “she dug through archives at the New York Transit Museum and at the New York Historical Society and used photographs she found based on the images of everyday riders and pedestrians from the 1920’s through the 1940’s, along with geometric shots of elevated girders being dismantled” (New York Times 2016). It took some reading on my part to figure it out. Again you really have to walk the stop to get the feel of her work.

The best part of these new stops are how clean they are and how well-managed the people from the MTA keep them. The three nights I travelled the new Q Line, the gentlemen from the MTA are constantly mopping and sweeping the cars and the platforms. They take immense pride in taking care of ‘their’ station and it shows in their work. The MTA should proud of how well-maintained these new stations are and should take note for many of their other stations that could use the same TLC.

So this is your opportunity readers to see the subway stops on your way to the Met or the Museum of the City of New York, the Conservatory or even Central Park and see the marvel of how art, commerce and construction and immense creativity on the part of the MTA, the City Planners and dedicated construction workers put their best foot forward and gave the city a living, breathing ‘art museum’ to pass through every day.

But SHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH! We want to enjoy first before the tourist get there.

Update since this Blog: August 1, 2018

According to Our Town Paper of the Upper East Side, the ridership on the new Q line has exceeded expectations as it is stealing riders from the Number 6 line:

The Q/F Stop at Lexington & East 63rd Street:  20,893 riders

The Q/F Stop at East 72nd Street:                         28,145 riders

The Q/F Stop at East 86th Street:                          23,722 riders

The Q/F Stop at East 96th Street:                          17,150 riders

This has eased the Number 6 line by almost 23% to 29% on most of the same stops. Right now there are plans to expand the line to East 125th Street with stops at East 106th Street, East 116th Street and East 125th Street that could be finished by 2029 if the funding from the government comes through. The cost could be around $6 billion; work on Phase One lasted ten years and cost $4.5 billion. The first phase took almost a hundred years to build with most being set up in the early 70’s before the money crunch of the City.

Money very well spent!

(Our Town Newspaper August 1st, 2018)