Tag Archives: Upper Manhattan

Day Ninety Seven: Walking the Streets of the Upper Upper West Side from West 110th-West 94th Streets October 21st-November 25th, 2017

It is amazing the changes that happen in just a month! The weather changed but not the way you would think. It went from being in the 80’s in the beginning of October to the 40’s and 50’s in November. Now you might say that is normal for this time of year but the temperatures have been all over the place.

People were dining outside as late as the day after Thanksgiving. It was 52F on the 25th of November. Nippy yes but eating outside? In the sun, it really was warm. As I walked the streets of the Upper Upper West Side, it was a pleasant and warm day.

The nice part is that it has been so warm outside lately that the leaves did not change as fast as they normally do this time of the year. The leaves did not start to change in the New York City area until about five days before Halloween. Everything was greener than it normally has been in the past. As of my last day on this part of the West Side, the trees still have changing foliage in Riverside Park, so when the sun hit some of the trees they still cast a glow of golds and reds.

I have seen a distinct change in the make up in the city as you cross over the 100th Street on the West Side. Once you pass the Douglass Houses, the residential area starts to change along with the stores and restaurants around it.  The bodegas and cheaper restaurants  start to disappear. The rents have been going up in this area and there is a lot of empty retail space in the Upper Upper West Side. What there is a lot of restaurants where the price of a burger will run you around $16.00. The Upper West Side is becoming a lot more like the Upper East Side.

What I have also have found is many beautiful pocket parks, unusual architecture with creative details and some wonderful restaurants and shops that show that the chain stores do not dominate a city. I never realized that it would take so long to finish the area. A little thing called Halloween came into play and then the weather got colder (See all the activities you can get involved with for the Halloween holidays for next year on this blog).

I started my first day at surprising enough 127th Street. I got on the C subway train by mistake ( I should have gotten on the A Train) but it gave me a chance to see what changes have come about in Morningside Heights. I swear as the new buildings at Columbia University are ready to open soon between 125th-134th Streets, the area is quickly changing around it. All over the area surrounding the 125th subway stop on the A subway line is being ripped apart and being rebuilt.

All the buildings around 125th Street are being sandblasted and gutted back to life or are being knocked down and rebuilt. This will just be an extension of Morningside Heights within the next five years. It will be more college campus than Harlem or the traditional Harlem that people know.

I had lunch that afternoon at West Place Chinese Restaurant at 1288 Amsterdam Avenue, a small hole in the wall Chinese restaurant that I passed several times (See review on TripAdvisor) and had wanted to try for a long time. The food was wonderful and the portion sizes were plentiful. I had an order of General Tso’s chicken with rice and Wonton Soup with a Coke for $8.00. It could have fed two people easily. The food was as good as anything in Chinatown and the quality was great.

West Place Chinese restaurant

After lunch, I walked down Broadway to 96th Street, passing through the campus that I had walked months earlier. The Columbia Campus is another part of the city that just keeps changing with new buildings being built on old ones or old buildings being sandblasted back to their original beauty. This area is becoming more desirable to live in again and as Morningside Park keeps improving, everything that surrounds it does as well. Even the parks surrounding the campus keep improving with Morningside Park receiving new plantings and Riverside Park getting a spruce up. I got to my destination, West 96th Street and Central Park West by the early afternoon.

I started my day on West 96th Street on the corner of West 96th and Central Park West where some of the trees were still green even this late into the season. I swear Central Park is never not busy. Families were playing in the playgrounds and tourists still walking through the park getting a taste of the real New York. The weather has been so unusually warm this year that it is a pleasure to just walk around.

For the most part, the blocks closer to the both parks, Central Park and Riverside Park, the streets are lined with beautiful brownstones. Most of the side streets between Central Park West and Amsterdam Avenue are lined with some of the most elegant architecture from the turn of the last century. It is hard to believe that up to twenty years ago, parts of this area had been bombed out.

I was able to see the last of the Halloween decorations give way to fall themes decorating the brownstones. Like their suburban counterparts, people like to decorate their buildings. Pumpkins and haystacks lined the elegant brownstones and occasionally there was a ghost or witch motif decorating the front.

halloween in Washington Heights

Brownstones decorated for the holiday

Some of the most beautiful buildings outside of the Central Park district were the homes between West End Avenue and Riverside Drive right next to Riverside Park. Old elegant mansions and gracefully carved apartment buildings line the streets between both Avenues. Look up at the craved stone sculptures that line the building. Graceful animals, fierce gargoyles and lattice work line the tops of these buildings. It is time to put down those silly cellphones and really notice how beautifully built these homes were and the care put into them.

Their is a lot of artwork on the Riverside Drive especially around this section of the Upper West Side. The Joan of Arc statue on 95th Street and Riverside Drive gives a description of her life and who she really was in the time of war. I didn’t realize how threatened they were by her that they had to accuse her of being a witch to get rid of her power of persuasion. The statute which was created in 1915 is in a small park within a park, “Joan of Arc Park”, that stands above Riverside Park above the paths. If you want to know more about her life, stop here and read the plaques.

Joan of Arc Park

Joan of Arc Statue in the small park

What stands out between 95th to 94th Streets off West End Avenue is the ‘Pomander Walk’, a small alley behind a large apartment building which contains a series of eight two story Tudor homes with gardens in front. This is hidden behind a gate off 94th Street.

This whimsical little treasure was build between 1920-1922 by nightclub owner, Thomas Healy. He was creating income for a large hotel that he wanted to build on the property. He died in 1927 before he could find funding for the hotel and that’s why it exists today. I have read that today it is hard to find a home in this little strip and a recent two bedroom apartment building sold for $700,000. Pretty good for a dolls house.

Pomander Walk II.jpg

Pomander Walk

The outside of the homes can be seen in on 95th Street and look like a Swiss or German Chalet in the Alps. The detail work was under scaffolding when I first passed it and I wondered if it was a restaurant being fixed up. When you discover the gate entrance, it almost looks like a hidden ‘Land of Oz’. I could see the flowers and plants from the street. It reminded me of some of the small developments in Harlem where a small set of row homes creates its own neighborhood. You have to really look for it or you will miss it.

I was able to walk Riverside Park and enjoy that late foliage. The view of the Hudson River is just spectacular especially from the buffs of the neighborhood. I don’t think too many tourists appreciate this park with it beautiful vistas of the river and its great parks for kids. The trees were a combination of golds and oranges when the sun hit them.

The Upper Upper West is a combination apartment buildings built in the 1970’s and 80’s with more newer buildings being developed along Broadway but here in there in the commercial district some things do pop out at you. This is true of the former ‘Little Plantation Restaurant’ that recently closed on the corner of 93rd Street and Columbus Avenue. Attached to an apartment building, this space looks like a Southern plantation mansion fitted even with a porch swing. I am not sure how long this will last without being a restaurant but make a special trip to the building just see the detail work.

Sol Bloom Playground

Sol Bloom Playground

As I rounded the corners back to Central Park West, I stopped at the Sol Bloom Playground on 92nd Street near the local school to look for a bathroom. This whimsical park on a nice day attracts kids from all over the place and their parents running all over and playing on a the equipment. The park was named after Sol Bloom, a self-made millionaire. He had made his money in his music and real estate businesses. He had built several apartment buildings and both the Apollo and Music Box theaters.

Sol Bloom.jpg

Sol Bloom

I ended the day at the 86th Station totally exhausted having walk the area between 96th Street to 90th Street. The one thing that differs the Upper Upper West Side from Manhattan Valley/Bloomingdale to the north is how much newer it has gotten at the core. So many more newer apartment buildings in this area and more businesses catering to a higher end client. It just seems more like the old Upper West Side above 96th Street.

My second day walking the neighborhood I started after a long day at the Soup Kitchen. Working the Bread station all afternoon with the homeless asking you for pastries all morning long can be wearing. I got through it all. I started this part of the walk with lunch in Yorkville, wanting to try East Garden Chinese Restaurant at 1685 First Avenue again to see if it made the cut for my blog, ‘Dining on a Shoe String in NYC’. It did!

East Garden Chinese Restaurant really blows my mind on how good this place is for lunch. Their lunch specials run $5.95 and you get a very large entrée with a side of rice. Add in a Coke for an extra dollar and you have lunch and dinner. The place is really clean too.

East Garden Chinese Restaurant.jpg

East Garden Chinese Restaurant is excellent!

I had the Chicken with Broccoli with white rice and it was a very large portion. Both the chicken and the broccoli were perfectly and they do give you a nice amount of chicken. The sauce is flavorful and delicious (See review on TripAdvisor and DiningonaShoeStringinNYC.wordpress.com as well). It was both lunch and dinner for me.

After lunch, it was across the street to Glaser’s Bakery at 1670 1st Avenue for dessert (See reviews on both TripAdvisor and DiningonaShoeStringinNYC-NOW CLOSED). They make a peach Danish that is out of this world ! ($3.00). I swear this is one of the best bakeries in the city! So much for the places with the $10.00 cookies, Glaser’s is the real thing. Every bite of that Danish was like heaven!

Glazer's Bake Shop

Glaser’s Bakery

I decided to walk across the park this afternoon to get some real exercise and work off that lunch. The park in the late fall is glorious with the gold and yellow leaves and the cool but still warm breezes. I walked along the reservoir and watched the joggers pass me by. I had more than a few tourists ask to take pictures for them but it is so much fun to see the park so alive with people and happy to be there. The park is so graceful in its own way and the fact that so much of it is being renovated by the Conservatory shows that people believe in it.

I love the winding paths and the quietness of the park. Even though these paths have been traveled many times, I felt as if I had seen them for the first time. I had never been to this part of the park before and walking these paths felt like a new adventure. It amazes me that I have been in this park a million times since I was a kid but I still wonder at the parts of it that I have never seen. I walked along the back paths of the lake by the low 80’s and ended up walking to West 82nd Street and Central Park West in the mid-afternoon. The trees were still brilliant with colorful leaves as November was still gripping. We had had such a warm fall that many of the trees turned late much to the benefit of those who like to walk around the neighborhood.

I walked up to 84th Street and Central Park West to resume my walk of the neighborhood. I really like the stores in this neighborhood. They have character. I walked into West Side Kids at 498 Amsterdam Avenue and West 84th Street, to look at the toys and games. It is one of the classic stores of the city and still holds on to the tradition that kids are not all glued to their cellphones. It has a nice array of games and stuffed animals and assorted pocket knick knacks. It is a place I would have liked to shop at when I was a kid.

John Koch Antiques at 201 84th Street (See review on LittleShoponMainStreet@Wordpress.com) has unique window displays and in the short visit I had there had many wonderful pieces to decorate the office or your home. I liked the sailboats in the window. There was a turn of the last century feel about the place.

John Koch Antiques

John Koch Antiques

Books of Wonder at 217 West 84th Street (See review on LittleShoponMainStreet@Wordpress.com) was enjoyable except they were going through a floor move when I was there and I only got to see the front of the store. It has an excellent selection of classic and contemporary children’s books.

Books of Wonder.jpg

Books of Wonder Book Store

As you turn the corner onto West 85th Street, take time to admire 101 West 85th Street. The building has the most beautiful architecture and beautiful details and built in the 1880’s. The Red House Apartment building at West 85th Street and West End Avenue near Riverside Drive has unique details to it as well. You really have to stop and look up to admire the design of the building. I rounded West 85th Street around West 86th Street and then to West 87th Street.

101 85th Street

101 West 85th Street; look at the details of the building

When walking up the block and turning onto West 87th Street, take time to admire the foliage at Central Park West. The park is truly beautiful on this part of block. The trees are really ablaze with color.

When I arrived at P.S. 166 on 132 West 89th Street, the Richard Rodgers School, is the Manhattan School of Art & Technology. I read the plaque that was dedicated in 2003 to the famous composer. The school was built in 1897 and is one of the few terra cotta gothic designs in the New York Public School system. It is such an honor to a famous composer of musicals such as ‘The Flower Drum Song’ and ‘The King and I’.

The Playground 89 next to P.S. 166 adds a little life to the quiet neighborhood. Even on a slightly warm November day, there were loads of kids running around while their parents relaxed and chatted on the benches surrounding the park. It was nice to see so many families out that afternoon.

As you round the neighborhood on West 89th Street, I walked into the West Side Community Garden at 123 West 89th and Columbus Avenue. This little gem of a park is located behind an office building and is across from P.S. 166. Though not in the full bloom that I saw from the pictures posted in the park from the Summer Opera Program, the trees still held on to their golden hue and some of the plants had some greenery to them. It looks like the community really backs and maintains the park. In warmer months, there is a lot of special events here.

West Side Community Garden.jpg

West Side Community Garden in the Summer

Down the street from the school and the parks is Ballet Hispanico at the corner of 167 West 89th and Amsterdam Avenue. Some of the holiday shows had been posted and looked rather interesting. The building was closed the day I was there.

The last part of my journey of the streets of the neighborhood was crossing West 90th Street for a second time and exploring the avenues. I stopped at the St. Gregory’s Playground near the corner of West 90th Street and Columbus Avenue. this little pocket park on the other side of the West Side Community Garden is in dire need of a face lift. I can see this is something the neighborhood needs as a parent yelled out to me if I was from the NYC Parks Department (I have no clue why I look so important to people when walking around the city. Either I look like a policeman or a city official).

There is another small park behind the Wise Houses, a small public housing project, in this very quickly gentrifying and updated neighborhood.  As I had read online and seen by walking though it (more stares from the residents), the small park has some unique fixtures yet is falling apart when you really look at it. The benches and some of the equipment is in need of repair but I could tell is well used by the residents by the kids running around. Like the St. Gregory playground, it could use a facelift.

The last part of the walk took me back to West End Avenue on West 90th Street and the most elegant row of brownstone homes that lined the avenue. I have noticed on my walk of this neighborhood that the individual homes along the streets between Central Park West and Columbus Avenue and Riverside Drive and West End Avenue have some of the most unique architecture in the neighborhood.

It must have been something when the whole neighborhood must have looked like this but that is progress. In the middle of the neighborhood, the area keeps updating, modernizing and changing. It seems that the neighborhood is morphing into something a little more upscale like its southern neighbors and less like Manhattan Valley to the north. For now, not quite the traditional Upper West Side but still homey and welcoming to people moving in. I enjoyed my afternoons here.

Take the A or C or 1 subway trains to the Upper Upper West Side. The A train will be express from 59th Street to 125th Street.

Places to eat:

West Place Chinese Restaurant

1288 Amsterdam Avenue

New York, NY  10027

(212) 932-9390/9376

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d5065901-Reviews-West_Place-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

DiningonShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/diningonashoestringinnyc.wordpress.com/591

 

East Garden Chinese Restaurant

1685 First Avenue

New York, NY

(212) 831-5900

http://www.eastgardenchinese.com

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

 

Glaser’s Bake Shop (now closed)

1670 1st Avenue

New York, NY 10128

(212) 289-2562

http://www.glasersbakeshop.com

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d930552-Reviews-Glaser_s_Bake_Shop-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

My review on DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/diningonashoestringinnyc.wordpress.com/409

 

Places to Shop:

West Side Kids

498 Amsterdam Avenue

New York, NY  10024

(212) 496-7282

http://www.westsideskidsnyc.com

 

John Koch Antiques

201 West 84th Street

New York, NY  10024

(212) 799-2167

http://www.kochantiques.com

My review on LittleShoponMainStreet@Wordpress.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/littleshoponmainstreet.wordpress.com/20

 

 

Books of Wonder

217 West 84th Street

New York, NY

(800) 207-6968

http://www.booksofwonder.com

My review on LittleShoponMainStreet@Wordpress.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/littleshoponmainstreet.wordpress.com/42

 

Places to Visit:

West Side Community Garden

123 West 89th Street

(212) 316-5490

http://www.westsidecommunitygarden.org

 

Ballet Hispanico

167 West 89th Street

(212) 362-6710

http://www.ballethispanico.org

 

Playground 89

West 89th Street

New York, NY  10024

http://www.nycgovparks.org/parks/playground/eighty-nine

Open: Varies with the school

 

Joan of Arc Park

Riverside Drive Between West 96th-West 91st Streets

New York, NY 10025

Open: Sunday-Saturday 6:00am-1:00am

https://www.nycgovparks.org/parks/joan-of-arc-park

 

 

 

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)

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

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

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

Estrella Bakery.jpg

Don’t miss this excellent Dominican Bakery on Broadway

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

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

Hispanic Society of America.png

The Hispanic Society of America

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

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

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

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

Sugar Hill I.jpg

Sugar Hill Neighborhood

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

Jackie Robinson Park I

Jackie Robinson Park where the students hang out.

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

Hope Steven Garden II.jpg

Hope Steven Garden

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

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

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

Convent Garden Manhattan.jpg

Convent Garden in full bloom

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

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

Maggie's Garden.jpg

Maggie’s Garden

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

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

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

Places to Visit:

Jackie Robinson Park

Bradhurst to Edgecombe Avenues at 145th Street to Manhattan Avenue

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

Convent Garden

Convent Avenue & St. Nichols Avenue

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

Maggie’s Garden

564 West 169th Street

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

Hope Steven Garden

505 West 142nd Street

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

Sugar Hill Neighborhood

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

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

Hispanic Society of America

163 West 155th Street

New York, NY 10032

(212) 926-2234

https://hispanicsociety.org/museum/

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

My review on TripAdvisor:

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

My review on VisitingaMuseum.com:

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

 

Places to Eat:

Victorio’s Pizza

346 West 145th Street

New York, NY 10039

(212) 283-2100

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

https://www.victoriospizzaplusmenu.com/

My review on TripAdvisor:

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

Estrella Bakery

3861 Broadway

New York, NY 10032

(212) 795-5000

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

My review on TripAdvisor:

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

My review on DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com:

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

Harlem Brothers Pizza & Wings

346 West 145th Street

New York, NY  10039

(646) 455-0942

My review on TripAdvisor:

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

 

 

Day Six: Walking in Inwood August 8th, 2015

My walks in Manhattan seem to have a late start. Work and household responsibilities come first but then the ride into the city is always anticipated.  I look forward to that walk around the neighborhood. My walk took from 218th Street to 207th Street from 10th Avenue to Inwood Hill Park. Today I started my trip in the late afternoon and started to walk on the other side of Broadway at 218th Street, home to the Columbia Athletic Complex.

As a Cornell Alumnus, I have spent many a day at the Stadium watching the on again off again rivalry between the two schools. In the last six years, I have attended three away games at the Columbia Stadium and I believe we have an even record with them. I have to admit that Cornell’s football record has not been great in the past few years but we as Alumni can still dream of that unbeaten season.

As I walked through the complex watching the Columbia team do its warm up, I have to tell you one thing, Even though our teams sit at the bottom of the Ivy League each year (we’ll get better), over the past three years I have noticed more cheering Cornell Alumni at the games, which our team seems to appreciate. It is funny to go to an away game and there are more people on the Cornell side of the stadium then the home team.

Columbia C

Columbia C at Marble Hill

Walking around the complex brings back many great memories of warm afternoons and the Alumni parade to the Cornell Club. Don’t miss the Lion statue in the middle of the complex. It really is quite a site. Grab an ice cream cone at the ice cream truck that is always parked at the entrance to Inwood Hill Park. His soft serve ice cream is $3.00 plus the chocolate topping, a dollar less than downtown.

On the edge of 218th Street, past of the Columbia Boathouse is the Muscota Marsh (See my reviews on VisitingaMuseum@Worpress.com and TripAdvisor) that overlooks the big ‘C’ on the cliffs in the foreground. This beautiful and relaxing little park can be reached by walking down the hill from the sports complex. It is the only fresh water marsh in the City of New York.

The Muscota Marsh is a one-acre public park adjacent to Inwood Hill Park and located on the shore of the Spuyten Duyvil Creek, which is a section of the Harlem River. Opened in 2014, the marsh has both a freshwater marsh and a salt marsh. Besides attracting plant and animal life, these wetlands are intended to help filter rainwater runoff and this helps to improve the water quality of the river. (Wikipedia).

Muscota Marsh

Muscota Marsh

The benches overlook both the Bronx and cliff views of New Jersey and a small piece of land that juts out from Inwood Hill Park that has a picturesque view in the foreground. It makes a nice walk to stroll amongst the benches and look at the plantings or just sit on a bench on a sunny afternoon and just enjoy the views. It is quiet and relaxing.

Once you leave the marsh, you enter Inwood Hill Park, which offers its own beauty, strolling along the paths and walking through the lawns and woods.  You will pass Indian Road Playground at 570 West 218th Street, a small park that is popular with the neighborhood kids. I went to the point of the park that juts into the river and watched a group of teenage boys fishing in the river. Traditions don’t die hard in this city as my grandfather did the same thing in the East River in the early 1900’s.

As you stroll down the path from this spot in the park and continue along the path, you will come across Shorakkopoch Rock, a boulder marking the site where Peter Minuet bought the island of Manhattan from the native Reckgawawang Indians for about 60 guilders of trinkets and beads in 1626  (See VisitingaMuseum@Wordpress.com and TripAdvisor). The boulder marks the spot of a giant 280 year old 165 foot tulip tree once stood until it died in 1932. Legend has it that this is the spot of one of the greatest real estate investments took place. It is such an important part of Manhattan history that most tourists miss.

Shorakkopoch Rock

Shorakkopoch Rock

Strolling back to the neighborhood, I walked down 218th Street and admired the homes that line the beginning of Park Terrace and the south side of 217th Street. These gothic looking homes have beautiful features and gardens to admire in the front. Their well-landscaped yards showcase the best in colorful flowers and shrubs that attract both small birds and butterflies. These homes remind us of a time when the neighborhood had a real residential feel to it. This part of Inwood reminds me a lot of Beacon Hill in Boston, with its sloping streets, well tended courtyards and prewar apartment buildings. Its a nice stroll just to pass the buildings and be taken back to a different time in the city.

In the middle of the neighborhood sits Isham Park  at Isham Street & Seaman Avenue. This was once part of the Isham family estate that the Isham family had donated to the City during the early part of the 20th Century. It was home to the Isham Mansion of William Bradley Isham. The mansion was torn down in 1940 due to disrepair. Bounded by Seaman Avenue and Broadway, this offers the neighborhood a quieter alternative to the bustling Inwood Hill Park next to it. What a lot of people don’t know is that Park Terrance leading into Isham was the original entrance to the Isham estate.

On this quiet afternoon, residents were reading, playing ball and catching up with their neighbors. It had a real family feel to it. Right off the park sits the Bruce Reynolds Memorial Gardens at 11 Park Avenue. These beautiful, well-landscaped paths were dedicated to Bruce Reynolds, a local resident and a former member of the N.Y. Parks Department and a Port Authority Police Officer who died on 9/11.

Bruce Reynolds Park

Bruce Reynold’s Park in bloom.

Mr. Reynolds had been a big part of the neighborhood clean up of the park and got local youths to help set it up when the gang problem in the neighborhood got to be too much. After time spent in the Parks Department as a ranger, he moved on to become a Port Authority Police Officer (NYParks Department).

These gardens are a legacy of his hard work to maintain this local neighborhood garden. It is a quiet place to sit and relax. The flowers were in full bloom when I visited and the gardens were loaded with bees, butterflies and birds moving along the flowering beds. I also want to note that the members of the community have Saturday potlucks and there are concerts open to the public in the warmer months. It is a pleasant park to sit and relax in.

My walk continued down 207th Street after covering all the roads from 218th Street to 207th Street from Inwood Park to Broadway. I was quite the hike up and down the hills. The neighborhood is surrounded by elegant pre-war housing especially around Park Terrance with its pocket gardens between the buildings. A nice place for the residents to get together and mingle while walking their dogs. 207th Street is mostly residential from the park to Broadway and then gets very commercial from Broadway to the entrance to the University Heights Bridge.

On a bustling summer day, people are out socializing, selling their wares on the sidewalk and there are fantastic street vendors selling everything from shaved ice with syrup, rainbow ices, fresh orange and fruit juice and pastelito’s fried right in front of you. All along this shopping street are reasonably priced stores selling clothing, cell phones and housewares. Here and there you can see some changes in the neighborhood with new restaurants catering to both old and new residents, but for the most part 207th Street is the equivalent to Mott Street in Chinatown except this street caters to the neighborhood’s strong Dominican community.

There are so many great options to eat on the street. D’Lillian Bakery at 526 207th Street has nice baked products and good doughnuts for a $1.00. There are terrific pastelito’s at a small cart on the corner of Sherman and 207th Street that fry theirs right in front of you and you have a choice of chicken, beef, egg and pork for a $1.00. This is one of the best deals and they are sizzling hot. Recommendation: buy two chicken and one beef and a coke with the guy next to them. It is a great walking lunch while exploring both sides of the shopping district. Finish the meal off with a rainbow ice, three scoops for $1.00 at a vendor on the other side of Sherman Avenue. Be prepared to speak your broken Spanish if you are not fluent.

D'Lillian Bakery

I ended my day at the corner of 207th and 10th Avenue having covered this whole part of Inwood. This is a beautiful, diverse and active neighborhood where everyone seems to get along and look out for one another. Even the vendors look you over as you enter the Number One subway back downtown. I don’t know if they are looking for business or making sure you’re not creating funny business. It’s part of the neighborhood that I wish more tourists would see especially in supporting our Dominican residents.

Places to visit:

Baker Athletic Complex

Robert K. Kraft Field/Lawrence A. Wien Stadium

533 218th Street

New York, NY  10034

 

Isham Park

Ishham Street & Seaman Avenue

New York, NY 10034

(212) 639-9674

 

Bruce Reynolds Memorial Garden

11 Park Terrace

New York, NY  10034

 

Inwood Park

From Dyckman Street to the Tip of Manhattan

Shorakkopoch Rock & the Native American Indian Caves & Indian Road Playground

Inwood Park

New York, NY  10034

 

Muscota Marsh

575 West 218th Street

New York, NY  10034

nycparks.org

 

The length of 207th Street

“Little Dominica” for shopping

 

Places to Eat:

D’ Lillian Bakery

526 207th Street

New York, NY  10034

(212) 304-0756

My review on TripAdvisor: