I am not going to lie to you. Jeg lag is a serious thing when you arrive in a location.
I was taking a course in “Culinary Tourism-How the Culinary Arts play a role in Tourism” for a week in Paris and it was like planning on going to the moon! I have never planned for a trip or watched to many videos to prepare for a trip. I watched every “Les Frenchie’s” YouTube video at least four times before I left and became an expert on getting back and forth from the airport. That and how to maneuver around the subway system.
We all had to arrive on our own time, so we were coming from each direction and arrived at different times of the day. I got in early in the morning on May 21st and then got to Charles LeGault Airport and then had to clear customs when I was half dead from no sleep on a six-hour flight. Actually, I felt pretty good until I stood in line for forty-five minutes and that’s when it hit me. I got a personality minus cab driver at the airport who did not say a word to me and just dropped me off at the University of Paris and then left (mine with me).
When I arrived, I thought we had to stop by security and these three French security guards at the college looked at me like I had just arrived from a foreign planet. One of them actually followed me to my dorm to be ‘sure I got there’. I must have looked strange with all my luggage, totally Jeg lagged and tired lugging those bags. At least check in to my dorm was seamless and I was able to get to my room and relax for a bit.
After I settled in and took a nap and a shower (the two things my father always said to do when you arrive at a destination to acclimate yourself to the time zone), we met for what was supposed to be a short walking tour of campus. It ended up my professor decided that we would take a tour of the Montmartre and we toured the Basilique du Sacre-Coeur de Montmartre and the Square Louise Michel. For dinner, he had tried this restaurant in a very touristy area around the church named Au Clarion des Chasseurs for a light dinner. He had been there many times and wanted us to try it. Thank God I took that nap!
We stopped at the Anvers subway stop and walked up to the square to visit the church. I thought I had arrived at a French version of 42nd Street with all the tee shirt shops and tiny little tourist restaurants. These streets were totally geared to foreign tourists with the “I love Paris” tee shirts, the vendors selling small souvenirs and water and the bracelet vendors who chased after you to put those stupid bracelets on you. I had seen enough videos online where I was watching for them and the scammer cabbies.
We started our walk up the hill at the Square Louise Michel, which was in full bloom in the late Spring. The park was packed with tourists and locals taking pictures, riding the merry go round and buying food. That late in the afternoon people were out and about enjoying the warm day.
The Basilique du Sacre-Coeur du Montmartre and the Sqaure Louis Michel in the front
While the rest of my class took the tram up, I climbed the stairs passing dozens of tourists snapping shots of the church and the vendors who would not stop bugging me to buy things. It was interesting to see the French police walking around with machine guns and these guys running away quickly. I do not see this in Manhattan.
Walking up the Rue du Steinkerque past the touristy spots
One of the tiny restaurants on the Rue du Steinkerque that I admired.
The flowers and the lawn of the Square Louise Michel was so beautiful. All the flowers were in bloom at the same time (Paris seems to be a bit behind New York with the season) and people were out picnicking and talking on the lawn while enjoying the beautiful sunny day.
Each set of stairs led to another level of the gardens and with each I got to set beautiful beds of flowers showing off their blossoms and the beautifully landscaped tiers of the gardens.
The gardens and lawns of the Square Louise Michel
The view from the top of the stairs by the Basilique du Sacre-Coeur was spectacular. You could see an amazing view of the city from this spot and really soak in how big Paris and its surrounding suburbs are in the borders of the city.
The views from the top of the stairs at Square Louise Michel are spectacular.
The fountains below the Basilique were beautiful and reminded me of some of the fountains in New York City that were created by Italian stone crafters during the late 1880’s. The stonework and the carvings were beautiful, and I took the time to admire them as I continued to walk up the steps.
The fountain at the Square Louise Michel
We walked through the Basilique du Sacre-Couer with its quiet elegance and many different dedications to the saints around the exterior of the pews. The church was a nice place to relax and contemplate a thought. People were inside praying, relaxing and taking tons of pictures which, we were asked not to take but everyone does it anyway. The is the power of cellphones today.
The Basilique du Sacre-Coeur de Montremarte at the top of the stairs
The detail work at the top of the church from below
I took my time and walked around the church, admiring the displays to the saints and relaxing myself in the pews. I was exhausted from the trip and could not believe that I was taking this tour when I was still jet lagged. Still, I carried on and figured that we would only be in Paris for five days and I wanted to see as much of the city as I could for this trip.
We walked around the church complex on the Rue du Mont Cenis and then down the Rue Norvins to a little restaurant cafe that my professor had been to many times. I thought it looked a little touristy, but the food and the service were wonderful, and we sat outside on this warm sunny night and the three of us with our professor enjoyed dinner and people watching.
Rue Novins with La Boheme Montremarte in the background in the Place du Tertre across from our restaurant
Another view of the Place du Tertre with the musicians in the background and the La Boheme Cafe to the right.
Since we were on a Culinary Tourism tour of the city for class, I kept snapping pictures of all the food, the service, the people and restaurant. I have really turned into one of those pictures obsessed tourists with a cell phone. I just could not believe how beautiful Paris is and how I underrated it in comparison to New York City. It is just as spectacular but in a different way. It is just older city but with just as many wonderful things to see and do.
We relaxed at the Au Clarion des Chasseurs Cafe and sat outside. It was fun to watch all the people walking by who seemed just as excited to be in Paris as we were that evening. It was a warm sunny evening and the perfect time to eat outside. I like the cafe culture of Paris where people take time to relax and enjoy their food and not seem rushed or have to be somewhere. I needed to sit because I could really feel the traveling catching up to me.
Our waitress spoke perfect English with a French accent and I could tell she was used to American tourists. We kept dinner light. My professor ordered for us, and we decided on a Meat & Cheese tray and a Salmon Pizza. I thought the food would be just okay in a spot like this, but the meal was wonderful, and it was just enough where I did not have a big meal in me before going to bed.
My professor with my classmates at dinner at Au Clarion des Chasseurs on the Rue Novins
The Place du Tertre was said to be a big artist hangout, but I mostly saw tourists walking by with cameras, people eating ice cream and crepes and typical French music being played by accordions as if on cue from a movie. I loved every minute of it. I am not as jaded as I thought I was and soaked it all in. It was just a place for people to gather and have a wonderful time and that’s what dinner was, just getting to know one another and the reasons why we took this class. Also to enjoy a good meal with people sharing an experience.
Our ‘light’ dinner of a Meat & Cheese tray stacked with different meats, cheese and pates and a Salmon Pizza with poached Salmon on top and the wonderful French bread.
The pizza that evening
The Salmon Pizza
Our Meat & Cheese tray which was more than enough food.
The wonderful French baguettes that our table seemed to inhale at dinner.
My meal I really enjoyed.
Part of my dinner: the wonderful Salmon Pizza and the Pate on the Baguette
After a wonderful relaxing dinner, we made our way back to the college for an early evening. I could feel the trip across the Atlantic Ocean catching up to me. After dodging an evening of pickpockets, wristband workers and vendors selling everything under the sun, it was time to go back to the room and just relax. Trying to go to bed was tough.
Just like at home, my window was right next to a highway so I get to hear traffic, ambulances and police cars and people walking around campus all night. Who says that home does not follow you around the world. It really dawned on me as I was walking down the steps at the Square Louise Michel.
The Hasbrouck Heights Men’s Association Executive Board with HHMA “Member of the Year” Ron Tagliabue at the Annual HHMA “Man of the Year” Awards Dinner on April 21st, 2023
The Hasbrouck Heights Men’s Association met for their Annual Dinner on Friday, April 21st, 2023, at Segovia Steakhouse and Seafood in Little Ferry, NJ. It was a wonderful evening out especially since the pandemic put a damper on previous year’s festivities.
We were honoring our “Man of the Year”, a member who has contributed a lot to the Hasbrouck Heights Community and our “Member of the Year”, a dedicated member of the Hasbrouck Heights Men’s Association who represents the best of the organization.
It was a wonderful evening of good food and wonderful drinks under a relaxing and warm Friday night. The food at Segovia’s is always wonderful and the selection was excellent. We started off with a wonderful appetizer platter that included chorizo, calamari and tiny empanada. The members dined on fresh salad, a pasta dish and for the entrees, we had steak, paella and for dessert, we had a wonderful, iced cake that was the perfect way to end the meal.
The delicious Salmon everyone enjoyed.
The delicious paella that was one of our entrees.
The marvelous beef entree that was served to us.
We ended dinner with a marvelous, iced cake that everyone enjoyed.
The HHMA Executive Board under the direction of President Steve Palladino met earlier in the month to decide who this year’s “Member of the Year” would be to represent the organization. The Board unanimously voted for long time member, Ron Tagliabue.
HHMA Member Ron Tagliabue winning “Member of the Year” for the organization.
Ron Tagliabue has been a member of the HHMA for over twenty years, has assisted in many special events and fundraisers and sold his share of Christmas trees, our major fundraiser which the community looks forward to every year to decorate their homes. He even served as Santa’s representative at our annual “Visit Santa at the Christmas tree stand”, a festive pre-COVID event we hope to bring back soon. After twenty years with the HHMA, he has been a dedicated and loyal member of the organization.
Hasbrouck Heights Men’s Association “Member of the Year” Ron Tagliabue
Our “Man of the Year” who the Executive Board felt best gave back to the Hasbrouck Heights Community we looked no further than our own member, Steve Feuss. Steve owns IDesign Creative Services LLC. Steve has done so much for both our organization and many others in town.
Steve does so much for our town in way of providing services at discounts and participating in all sorts of programs that the town sponsors. He is also very involved with the Hasbrouck Heights Chamber of Commerce and gives back so much to the Hasbrouck Heights community.
HHMA “Man of the Year” member Steve Feuss of IDesign Creative Services LLC with the HHMA Executive Board
“Man of the Year” Steve Feuss with his wife, father and daughter at the dinner
Both members were very touched by the awards and the Executive Board could not be happier with both men’s participation in the Hasbrouck Heights Men’s Association. It was a wonderful dinner and all the members and their spouses had such a wonderful time. Thank you to all the members of the Hasbrouck Heights Men’s Association that give so much back to our town!
Members and their spouses enjoying dinner at Segovia Steak & Seafood in Little Ferry, NJ
The New Kamboat Bakery & Cafe (or just Kamboat Bakery) is one of the liveliest bakeries in Chinatown. I started visiting the bakery after seeing videos on YouTube mentioning it for a great place to have a snack.
Since then, I have been visiting often after class for their Roast Pork and Cream filled buns, Curried and Pepper Chicken Puffs, Egg Tarts and other bakery delights that I enjoy for lunch and for snacks.
The bakery section at Kamboat Bakery
The selection of baked goods and entrees is extensive and there are all sorts of puffs, tarts and twists filled with sweet and savory fillings including roast pork, hot dogs and even breakfast sandwiches.
Kamboat Bakery also has a selection of rice rolls and entrees over…
The Lewes Maritime Museum at the Cannonball House at 118 Front Street
The Lewes Historical Society promotes and advocates the preservation, interpretation, and cultural enrichment of the Lewes region, through museum exhibits, educational programs, historical research, and publications.
About The Lewes Maritime Museum at the Cannonball House
The Cannonball House was built c. 1765 and was once the home of Gilbert McCracken and David Rowland, pilots for the Bay & River Delaware. The Cannonball House has come to symbolize not only the Society, but the town of Lewes as well; previous uses included a restaurant, a laundry store, and, for a time, the mayor’s…
I have always loved Easter. It is my favorite holiday even over Christmas. It is a more relaxing time of year and there is not the rushing around that the Christmas holidays bring. Both work and graduate classes were taking up so much of my time that it was nice to just relax on Easter and have dinner with my family. It didn’t really turn out that way but I got a lot accomplished and it ended up being a productive weekend.
Classes at NYU have been tough as there have been so many projects to do and the semester ends the second week of May. I have never seen time fly by like this. I would have thought the semester would have ended closer to Memorial Day Weekend but it ends much earlier and everyone is scrambling to get their work done. I was able to sneak down to Washington DC last Sunday to see the Cherry Blossoms in bloom and this time around I got to see them.
My blog on “Visiting the Cherry Blossoms in Washington DC Day Two Hundred and Thirty-Two”:
The Cherry Blossoms in Washington DC the week before
They bloom so much earlier than the festival (almost two weeks) and last year the basin was loaded with people looking at bare trees. Everyone was taking pictures under the dozen or so trees that were the last species to bloom (the same ones in the Brooklyn Botanic Garden) and you could barely take a picture without a dozen people pushing you out of the way. At least this year the storms did not disrupt all the petals.
The Cherry Blossom at the basin and the crowds following them
Even though it was for one day, the trip to Washington DC is always a treat. I was looking forward though to seeing the other great Cherry Blossom displays in both Branch Brook Park in Newark, NJ and the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens in Brooklyn, NY. Those always follow this display and are just as spectacular.
It was Branch Brook Park in Newark, NJ that was in full peak bloom this week. I was able to get to the park later in the afternoon around 4:00pm when the crowds started to thin out. I did not realize that the Visitors Center and parking lot were closed for renovation. That really backed up traffic in the park and there were wall to wall people by that section of the park. I parked toward the entrance (always a good move) and was able to walk all sections of the park with no problems. What surprised me but didn’t shock me was the behavior of people towards the Cherry Trees.
Branch Brook Park in Newark, NJ at Park Avenue & Lake Street
Just like in DC the week before, people were climbing all over the trees, tugging on the branches, pulling off the blossoms and sticking in their hair and pockets or just taking the branches home. Even with all the signs, people just don’t listen. I never really thought about it until I started taking classes at NYU and was learning about the concept of over-tourism. People really have no consideration for the world around them and abuse the very things that they are there to see. I was constantly walking into someone’s picture from every angle.
The brilliance of Mother Nature in full bloom
Still the park was beautiful and the trees and shrubs were at the peak of bloom and that made it special to me. I still remember coming here with my dad every year and then we would go to Rutt’s Hut in Clifton, NJ for a hot dog after our visit. I never remember it being as busy as it is today but this was before 2010 and the IPhone was not as prevalent as it is now. It is amazing how social media has really changed this park.
The crowds in the late afternoon in Branch Brook Park
I just walked along the paths by myself enjoying the Spring day and admiring the trees and flowers of the park. I had never seen it at its peak and it was truly brilliant. I had never see the blossoms so vibrant and the colors so strong. It was Mother Nature at its peak and it only lasts for about a week.
With all the rain we have had lately it knocks the petals off the trees quickly. Branch Brook Park is one of the most unrated parks in the New York area and Newark does get knocked a lot but still the city offers its treasures to us if we seek them out.
How beautiful the river was running through the park
I spent about two hours exploring all parts of the park, watching baseball games, watching parents jump around with their kids and watching couples just holding hands and admiring the trees. There were so many Sweet Sixteen and Wedding pictures being snapped that again you had to maneuver correctly.
It’s always best to park by the entrance so that you can get out of the park easier when it is busy
After about two hours of walking around the park and enjoying the sunshine and the beautiful views, I had to get something to eat. Not in the mood for a hot dog as tradition states I stopped at Pizzatown Pizzeria in Newark for a slice of pizza. I had been there a few times over the years finding the pizzeria in pre-COVID days when all the food trucks were mobbed and not much options on the Bellville side of the park.
Pizzatown is one of those old Newark, NJ businesses that existed when this side of the city all around Branch Brook Park was all Italian up until about the early 1980’s when the last of the elderly Italian families either moved out or had passed away. It is the only business left from that time. Still the pizza is fantastic and I look forward to coming here every year when I am looking at the blossoms. I had a slice of Sicilian pizza that was delicious and it was just nice to relax and eat. I had taken so many pictures of the restaurant before I walked in that the owner asked if I was a relator. In that neighborhood? I thought he was kidding. I guess not too many 6:3 white guys go walking around this place.
Pizzatown Pizzeria & Restaurant at 883 Mt. Prospect Avenue in Newark, NJ
The inside of Pizzatown harks back to the 1960’s when this was an Italian neighborhood
The Sicilian pizza here is so good!
After lunch was over, I took on last look around the park and admired all the trees that were newer that were planted in the park towards the entrance. It is interesting how they just keep planting more trees around the park. I heard that this is the largest collection of Cherry Trees in the world.
The Cherry Trees right by my car on the edge of the park
It was a nice afternoon of walking around and enjoying nature. I had never seen the Cherry Trees this brilliant and so vibrant in colors before. This is what it means to see the trees at their peak!
In between classes before the Easter weekend started, I walked around the City after my classes were over on Friday and walked into Macy’s for the Annual Flower Show at the Herald Square store. I could not believe it has been thirty five years since my interview that started my job at Macy’s in 1988. I had gone in for my interview on a Saturday morning and was mesmerized by the store and Flower Show which lead to my second and third interviews and my seven year career with the company. It dawned on me how long ago that morning had been.
The entrance to Macy’s Flower Show in the Herald Square main store
The Flower Show on the first floor of the Macy’s store is always a treat. There were a lot of interesting displays this year but not so many flowers on the tops of the display cases. At least not the ones that I had seen in the past. It seemed more scaled down from the flowers on the upper displays and more the hanging displays that lined the main aisle.
The entrance to the Flower Show from the Broadway side of the store
Most the displays were hanging from the main aisle of the first floor so it was a much different display from those of the past but still it was very creative and people stopped every three feet to take more pictures. I was just as annoying but the store looked so nice.
The first floor by the escalators that did not exist when I worked there
The Floral Display by the Cosmetic Department
Not quite the hanging gardens of the past but still nice
The hanging floral arrangements by the escalators on the first floor
It was not the show that I remember as there were many more floral arrangements that were much more detailed and elaborate as there was more space on the old tops of the display cases. This was a more modern view of the Flower Show. I thought it was fun and they did a nice job. New Management and a new way of looking at the show.
Macy’s Display windows-My favorite
Macy’s Display windows
The display windows outside were a lot of fun and the display people did a great job on the them. It was really funny though. I was not in the City for class on Good Friday so I did not see the full extent of the show until Monday morning when the store reopened (the store is closed on Easter).
Macy’s Display windows
When I returned on Tuesday for my next class, the windows were already closed and we being dismantled and the whole show must have been taken down Monday night after the store closed. Everything was gone by Tuesday afternoon. Another Flower Show had passed.
Macy’s Display windows
Easter morning was really nice as I got to spend it with my cousins and my aunt at a wonderful restaurant in Red Bank, NJ. It was a bright and sunny Easter but a bit chilly. It was the first time in years that I had not been to church on Easter morning but I would go another day. We had an 11:00am reservation for brunch and I got picked up at 9:45am.
The weather was really windy when we got the Oyster Point Hotel where we were having brunch. I could not believe the winds off the water but by the time we were finished, it ended up being a nice warm afternoon. I guess it rough in the morning.
The bay right next to the hotel parking lot
The bay area of Red Bank is so beautiful and everything was just coming into bloom. We were able to walk around the docks for a bit before brunch. People were just getting their boats serviced and ready for the season. It was a spectacular morning looking over the water.
We were one of the first tables to arrive that morning so I got some great shots of the buffet and all the delicious and creative displays at all the stations of the restaurant. It was a very nice presentation and there was so much to choose from.
Oyster Point Hotel Pearl Room Banquet space where the brunch took place
The Dining Room
The food and the service were just amazing. I could not believe the view of the bay and the dazzling blue water in front of us. Thank God though our table was not by the window because the buffet line stretched in that direction when we were eating.
The Seafood on Ice Station
I could not believe the choices at brunch. There was a complete salad section to make your own salad, a seafood display on ice, an omelet and waffle bar with potatoes, bacon and sausage on the side if you wanted to start with breakfast. The baked good section for breakfast was extensive with fresh doughnuts, pastries, muffins, bagels and cookies. There were also slices of white and coffee cake if you wanted those as well.
The Breakfast Pastry display
There was a pasta station with ravioli and penne with chicken and broccoli, a carving station with turkey, beef and salmon, a complete lunch bakery section and fruit display. The Candy station was really unique with a display of chocolate lobsters and peeps in a tree.
The display of candy was very clever
The Candy display was really unique and very creative
The Pastry Chef really has a a sense of humor
The best was that they had a complete crab cake station with all sorts of sides such as mac & cheese, mashed potatoes and sweet potatoes. They were all served in champagne glasses. The portions were small but you could go back as many times as you wanted.
The Lunch Bakery table
The Fruit Dessert display
There were also chafing dishes of wild rice, mixed vegetables, chicken piccata, roasted potatoes and a beef dish. The quality of the food in the chafing dishes matched all the stations and nothing was soggy or tepid. Everything was perfectly cooked and spiced. There was so much to choose from that I must have made twenty trips to the buffet line to the amusement of my family.
Being in the culinary arts and working in a soup kitchen for almost twenty years, I know not to waste food, Watching people pile their plates high is so silly when you can go back as many times as you want. I walk around a buffet, survey what is offered and then go back for many small tastes of everything. I think it is a sin to waste food and throw it out when there is no reason for it.
A little taste of the pasta section, the carving section, the chafing dishes and those marvelous crab cakes. The food was excellent!
After brunch was over, were were there for almost three hours eating and talking and watching the people on the bay in their boats, we made an early afternoon of it. I had wanted to go to the cemeteries and had some yard work to do (I can’t believe I had that much to do as I was in the yard for two hours) and then had some writing to finish. My life never sits still. We took some pictures around the hotel and walked around the dock for a bit. We said our goodbyes to my cousin and his wife and then toured the town of Red Bank, NJ. What a pretty downtown. It really has some nice stores and restaurants.
My cousins, my aunt and I at Easter 2023
I always enjoy spending time with my family. I hope every had a wonderful Easter and Passover!
The members of the Bergen County Firemen’s Home Association at the April 2023 Meeting
On April 16th, 2023, the members of the Bergen County Firemen’s Home Association met for our quarterly meeting. We discussed the happenings at the NJ Firemen’s Home and following the State regulations as we prepare to host our Summer barbecue in June for the residents and their guests. We are also planning a second barbecue in August with a special party planned for member who is turning 100 this year. More detail on that are forthcoming.
We were impressed by the number of donations from our fellow fire departments all over Bergen County, NJ for their generous donations to help fund the entertainment, refreshments and gifts to the NJ Firemen’s Home in the future. We want to thank our Brother Firefighters for thinking about the residents of the home and assisting our brothers and sisters. We…
Open: When the library is open. Please check the website.
The Donald & Barbara Tober Exhibit Room plaque inside the Conrad N. Hilton Library hallway
The Donald and Barbara Tober Exhibit Room is on the main floor of the Conrad N. Hilton Library. The exhibit room is open to the CIA community and to the public. The exhibition room has ongoing displays of culinary themed exhibits that cover topics involving the culinary world and food service. This is run by both the college and by students. It is not quite a museum but more of a display room of artifacts that are held by the Conrad N. Hilton Library and its archives.
If you want to see some of the most beautiful sites in New York City during the Spring months when Mother Nature truly works her magic then I would suggest going to the Brooklyn Botanic Garden to see Daffodil Hill and Magnolia Plaza.
The sign when entering Daffodil Hill in the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens
This is when everything is in full bloom during the early Spring. There is nothing like it and it is so breathtaking with a quiet elegance. On this clear and sunny Thursday afternoon, the gardens were quiet so I had plenty of time to take pictures and enjoy the beautiful views.
Daffodil Hill at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden
Hundreds of Trumpet Daffodils are in bloom on a hill just off the Japanese Gardens flanked by hundred-year-old trees and it just plays into the backdrop of the greens and browns of the trees and lawns. I can’t tell you on a beautiful sunny day how breathtaking it is just to sit and admire these elegant flowers. It really is a site to see.
Daffodil Hill in full bloom
I love the way these hundreds of flowers make such a beautiful statement and there is such a burst of colors between the yellows and oranges of the daffodil flowers. This only lasts for about two weeks and then the flowers hibernate again.
The side view of Daffodil Hill from the walkway
Daffodil Hill just off the Japanese Gardens
Daffodil Hill is right next to the Magnolia Plaza that was also in peak bloom when I was at the gardens. The trees of the Magnolia Plaza bloom the last week of March and these delicate trees petals do not last more than a week. When I got close enough to them to take pictures, I noticed that some of them were starting to curl already.
The area between Magnolia Plaza and Daffodil Hill
Not all the trees were in bloom yet but these delicate trees are very sensitive to the weather and I have noticed that the petals don’t last as long. Most of the trees were in full bloom but there was not much a smell to the trees. Still everyone was taking pictures in every direction between the Magnolia trees and Daffodil flowers.
The Magnolia Plaza in full bloom
The sign in the Magnolia Plaza
The edge of the Magnolia Plaza
The pathways in the afternoon
The Magnolia trees make such a bold and colorful statement
The array of colors in the Magnolia Plaza
The Magnolia Plaza facing Daffodil Hill in the distance
The Sundial in the middle of the Magnolia Plaza
After taking dozens of pictures of the Magnolia Plaza and Daffodil Hill, I walked over to the Rock Garden. There were not many flowers in bloom there yet as they come out later in the month. There was still an array of daffodils and a few crocuses still in bloom. The Rock Garden was quiet and perfect to walk around in as I had this part of the garden to myself.
The Rock Garden in the early Spring
The Rock Garden in the early afternoon
I headed to the northern part of the garden and visited the Japanese Gardens, where the cherry blooms started to bloom. These graciously landscaped gardens were created in the traditional Japanese form with a combination of trees and shrubs to balance the garden.
Entering the Japanese gardens from the path
The Japanese Gardens pool with traditional buildings
The Japanese Gardens in the early Spring
I came back about two weeks later to the Gardens and Daffodil Hill was starting to fade. The daffodils only have about two weeks until their season is done. The Magnolia blossoms were long gone as their season faded away too. There was only one tree blossoming when I came back.
Still other parts of the garden were coming into bloom and it was quite spectacular. The Cherry Blossoms were just coming into their peak period but not fully opened yet. The crowds started to get bigger in the gardens to see these.
The Cherry Blossoms were coming out in mid April
I walked along the pathways in the Cherry Blossom lawn area admiring all the buds that it shares with the Japanese Gardens. The trees bend gracefully and at this in this park I don’t see all the visitors climbing on the trees and pulling on the branches the way they did in Branch Brook Park in Newark or in Washington DC.
These beautiful pink trees were so colorful
People were taking wedding pictures along the paths and the trees made a glorious backdrop. I was so tired from all the running around from the previous week, I just stopped and sat under the trees myself and what a sight that was! It was so nice to just look up at all the flowering trees and see all the pink fluffy blossoms.
Along the Cherry Blossom tree path
People were snapping pictures left and right
What was also nice was the Bluebells were out in the gardens behind the Cherry trees. Their beautiful blue and violet hues were in full bloom as well and the gardens were awash with color.
The Bluebells were amazing this year
People were so busy looking at the Cherry Blossoms that they forgot to look at beautiful flowers. Their being planted by the Tulip tree made a nice backdrop.
The last thing I looked at before I left this part of the garden were the tulips that were in full bloom this time of year. This area of the park was really colorful with all the different hues of tulips.
The colors and the vibrance of the tulips were amazing
The colors and vibrance of the Tulip Tea at the gardens
Before I left the gardens for the afternoon, I stopped in the gift shop and looked around. They have some wonderful things to buy including a section of Brooklyn made products. There is also an array of plants, books and decorative products to buy.
The Gift Shop at the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens
The Brooklyn made products and book selection at the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens
After my visit to the gardens, I stopped at Bahn Mi Place at 824 Washington Avenue for lunch. I had one of their classic Bahn Mi sandwiches with ham and pate on a chewy hard roll. The food here is consistently good and their sandwiches are excellent.
You have to order the sandwich with a Medium spicy sauce. It adds to the complexity
The sandwiches are excellent. The flavors of the fresh vegetables and meats with the spicy sauce makes complex flavor. The bread is fresh and chewy and don’t be fooled by the size of the sandwich. It is larger than I thought and very filling. See my review on both TripAdvisor and DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com.
I took my lunch and ate on the steps near the Brooklyn Museum and just enjoyed the afternoon. I people watched and enjoyed the cool, sunny weather. It was nice to escape from classes for a couple of hours and just relax and not think about school or work. It has again become a bit stressful between the two but I will handle everything.
I look forward to this time in the gardens and is one of the reasons why I keep my membership. I love to look at the hundreds of daffodils in bloom and watching as they sway in the wind and just want to look beautiful. It is the most amazing site every Spring.
This beautiful church is located just off downtown Lewes, DE. The church’s cemetery is what attracted me to the site with all the historical names of founding families of Delaware and of Lewes and its ties to the Revolutionary War. It is interesting to walk around and look at the names on the tombstones and wonder what their lives must have been like back then. The church is only open on Sunday mornings so I have not had the chance to see inside. It’s stained glass windows are supposed to be amazing.
I am going to try to attend services there the next time I am in town.
The historic marker
(Written by Judith Atkins Roberts, 2003-Lewes Presbyterian Church website)
Presbyterianism came early to the Eastern Shore and…
I took a different direction from my walk having finished the Flatiron District (finally!). I had just started Graduate School as I was finishing the Flatiron District and had not completed the blog when classes started. Who knew it was going to be that crazy of a semester. I had not worked that hard since Wines & Menus when I was at the Culinary Institute of America.
I bypassed the whole Theater District after the COVID vaccine mandate was lifted in June of 2020 because between the riots that took place after the George Floyd incident and all the theaters being closed because of COVID (they would not open again until 2021) I skipped this section of the Manhattan. I went to Murray Hill and worked my way down to 23rd Street. The whole Theater District was loaded with police anyway guarding the theaters and the areas in between. There was literally no one walking around this neighborhood and I would have stood out. The theaters and restaurants were boarded up and homeless all over the place.
So I’m back and it makes it really easy since I just get right out of Port Authority and here I am. The Theater District has changed tremendously in the last thirty years and has gotten much better. All of 42nd Street and its seediness has pretty much gone away (but the element still lingers) and some of the most innovative new buildings have replaced all that. It made for an interesting walk before I had to meet my friend, Maricel, for her delayed birthday dinner at Virgil’s, a barbecue restaurant on West 44th Street.
So I started on the corner of Eighth Avenue and West 42nd Street and made my way up Eighth Avenue to the northern border of the Theater District at West 54th Street. Talk about a combination of architectural structures and designs.
One of the most interesting buildings in the Times Square area is the Westin New York at Times Square at 270 West 43rd Street which stretches from West 42nd to West 43rd along Eighth Avenue. This hotel is considered one of the most innovative designed buildings in New York City when it was built.
Westin New York at Times Square at 270 West 43rd Street
The hotel was so innovative at the time when it was built and was considered a key in the redevelopment of the West 42nd Street district. The hotel was commissioned by the architectural firm of Arquitectonica to design the building. The 863 room hotel is actually two towers merged together with a ten story midsection for retail and hotel suites. The large scale abstract design has the look of a multi-dimensional gigantic origami (Arquitectonica website). The building was designed by HKS architects and was finished in 2002.
Further up Eight Avenue is the well-known Row NYC Hotel at 700 Eighth Avenue. This hotel opened in 1928 as the Hotel Lincoln and was the largest hotel in Manhattan when it opened with 1331 rooms. In 1957, the hotel was sold and remodeled and open again as The Hotel Manhattan. It was closed in the 1960’s as the rest of the area declined. It reopened again as the Milford Plaza Hotel in 1978 and was a big theater going hotel. In 2013, the hotel was sold once again and went through another renovation and opened as the currently Row NYC Hotel (Wiki).
As I made my way up Eighth Avenue that borders the Theater District, I passed the now reopened Smith’s Bar, which has been a fixture in Times Square for over sixty years opening in 1954. The bar had been sold to new owners in 2009 and then closed in 2014 to reopen a year later.
This bar has seen Times Square go through a major transition over the years and was once located in one of the worst areas during the 1990’s. It has since reopened and has been very popular going into “March Madness” with college basketball in full swing.
Located between 728 and 732 Eighth Avenue are three hold out businesses to a major construction project. It still houses Daniela at 728 Eighth Avenue, an Italian restaurant, a gift shop at 730 Eighth Avenue and Playwright Celtic Pub at 732 Eighth Avenue. Frankly I think all three businesses time is coming as the land is getting too valuable in the Times Square area. Every building around these has been torn down for a new building.
Further up the avenue on the corner of Eighth Avenue and West 46th Street is the West 46th Street SRO. This interesting building that I thought was an elegant Victorian is actually a combination of three former tenement buildings and two residences to make one building. Architects Oaklander, Coogan & Vitto PC created this interesting building with an additional shared floor topped with a mansard roof and tower. It used to house many trendy restaurants and bars but since the pandemic has been empty. By 2023 though, it is starting to fill up again (OCV Architects PC).
I reached West 48th Street and I passed Engine 54/Ladder 4/Battalion 9, which I used to pass all the time when I worked down the road at the Java Shop on the corner of Broadway and West 46th Street at 782 Eighth Avenue. These companies were hit hard a year after I left my job on 9/11 when the Brothers of this house lost 15 members that day, their entire shift. The memorial they have to their members is really touching and the guys that work there always seem so friendly to all the tourists that pass by.
Engine 54/Ladder 4/Battalion 9 at 782 Eighth Avenue
Pay respects to the Engine 54/Ladder 4 9/11 Memorial on the front of the building
Engine 54 Plaques and Awards including 9/11
The plaque at the firehouse
There are two wonderful Chinese restaurants that I like to visit when I am in the neighborhood. One is Chef Pho & Peking Roast Duck at 858 Eighth Avenue, which has wonderful lunch specials until 4:00pm. The restaurant has some of the best egg rolls that I have tasted in a long time. I made special stops here for lunch when walking the area.
The other is Real Kung Fu Little Steamed Buns at 811 Eighth Avenue which is known for their Pork & Crab and Pork Soup Dumplings. I love their fried dumplings, Scallion pancakes with sliced beef, the pan-fried Duck Buns and the Shanghai pan-fried pork buns. Everything on the menu here is excellent and you can eat your way through the menu of delicious Dim Sum.
Real Kung Fu Little Steamed Buns at 811 Eighth Avenue
When I turned the corner at West 54th Street, it was like visiting an old friend. Although I walk down this street all the time on the way to the MoMA (The Museum of Modern Art), in the past I never really paid attention to the buildings in the area or the architecture. When I walked down the street I saw the beauty in a lot of the townhouses that lined West 54th Street toward Fifth Avenue.
As I walked the border of the neighborhood on West 54th Street from Eighth Avenue, you can see the traces of Old Residential New York side by side with the new office towers, hotels and the extension of the Museum of Modern Art on the corner of West 54th and Fifth Avenue.
At the very edge of the neighborhood is 254 West 54th Street now the home of a theater but in the late 70’s was home to the famous ‘Studio 54’ nightclub and epicenter of the Disco era. There has never been a club before and after that can compare to it.
The club was opened in 1977 by club owners Steve Rubell and Ian Schlager who had once opened clubs out on Long Island and to much fanfare and the party did not end until the club was raided for tax evasion and closed February of 1980. The party was over! The club continued to open over the years but the original magic was gone as the Disco era faded away in the early 80’s.
254 West 54th Street The famous former “Studio 54”
The history of the Rise and Fall of Studio 54
Seed54 Sculpture at the corner of Sixth Avenue and West 54th Street
On the corner is the an unusual sculpture that I first noticed when walking past a hot dog vendor on the corner of Sixth Avenue and West 54th Street in front of 1330 Sixth Avenue building. This strange looking piece of artwork resembles an open air egg is by artist Haresh Lalvani. This unusual sculpture can be interpreted many different ways. The only problem is that the hot dog vendor on the corner distracts from even looking at it and I have passed it without even noticing it over the times I have been in the neighborhood.
Seed54 Sculpture at the corner of Sixth Avenue and West 54th Street
Artist Haresh Lalvani in front of one of his “HyperSurface” works
Mr. Lalvani is a professional artist and Professor at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn. His emphasis in the work is his study of morphology into nature and its effects on art. ‘Seed54′ is part of his HyperSurface’ series. Mr. Lalvani is a graduate of the Pratt Institute of Architecture (Pratt Institute).
Artist Haresh Lalvani in front of one of his “HyperSurface” works
The first building that popped out to me was The Albemarle at 205 West 54th Street. This 12 story Beaux-Arts building was built in 1903 and was once known as the Hotel Harding and then the Alba. Actress Mae West once living in the building. The hotel at one time was home to the notorious “Club Intime” run by Texas Guinan. This was a well-known Speakeasy during Prohibition (City Realty).
Take time to look at the detailed stone work and carvings along the building. It really stands out amongst its more modern neighbors.
In front of 1345 Sixth Avenue is a large silver globe that has always fascinated me on the walks down West 54th Street. There is no name of the artist and nothing on the planters or doorway of the building.
The silver globe in front of 1345 Sixth Avenue on the corner of West 54th Street
At 162 West 54th Street, another beautiful building stands out with faces staring and smiling at you. This recently renovated building has now been turned into luxury condos and has been sandblasted back to its original beauty for a building that was built in 1911.
Walking further down the street, you will realize that this part of the neighborhood is home to many of the most famous ‘old line’ hotels in Manhattan. At 65 West 54th Street is the luxury Warwick Hotel.
The 36 story hotel was built by William Randolph Hearst in 1926 with the help of architect Emery Roth with the firm of George B. Post & Sons. The outside of the hotel is done with brick, granite and limestone giving it it’s unusual color scheme. Take time to look at the hotel’s detail work and old world charm in the lobby (Wiki).
The Warwick Hotel at 65 West 54th Street
The detail work around the windows of the Warwick Hotel
As you continue to walk the border of West 54th Street closer to Fifth Avenue, you will see the back of the Museum of Modern Art which just reopened after its renovation and expansion. On the northern side of West 54th Street is a series of historical mansions each with its distinctive look.
The first home that really stood out was 35 West 54th Street. The brownstone was built right after the Civil War and was part of a series of identical brownstones built on the block. When the brownstone was bought by owner, Dr. Allan Thomas, in the late 1890’s, he stripped the front of the brownstone and gave it its current Beaux Arts facade to match architecture being built along Fifth Avenue.
Another mansion that stands out along West 54th Street is the William Murray House at 13-15 West 54th Street. These twin mansions were built for Larchmont businessman William Murray by architect Henry Janeway Hardenbergh in the ‘Renaissance style’. This section of fashionable mansions is what is left of the Gilded Age residences in the neighborhood.
The James Gordon House at 9-11 West 54th Street really stands out. James J. Gordon was the owner of the Erie Railroad and two insurance companies and was a cousin of JPMorgan, the banker. The house was designed by McKim, Mead & White in the Colonial American style. Mr. Gordon’s family had come to the United States in the 17th century and was from an old line Connecticut family. Look at the classic look of the mansion and its elegant stone and grill work. The house is now on the market for 65 million dollars (Curbed New York).
The last home in this series of brownstones is 7 West 54th Street which was built by banker Philip Lehman in 1900. The brownstone was designed in the Beaux Arts style and after his death in 1947, his son, Robert, moved in and used the home for his art collection. He used the house until he died in 1969. It is now being used as offices (Wiki).
As you turn the corner to Fifth Avenue, you start to experience the old wealth of Manhattan with the University Club to your right and St. Thomas Church to the left when you enter Fifth Avenue at West 54th Street. This area also contains luxury department stores and shops, famous hotels and the Upper Crust churches that dot Fifth Avenue. The Theater District shares the borders with Midtown East, the Upper East Side, Hell’s Kitchen and the Garment District so there is a lot of overlapping with the neighborhoods.
The next block up is a combination of unique buildings back-to-back with the University Club of New York (Princeton) and the Peninsula Hotel. These buildings are so beautiful in their place on Fifth Avenue.
The University Club of New York is a private social club and is just as elegant inside as it is outside. The building was designed by the firm of McKim, Mead & White in 1899 and was designed in the Mediterranean Revival Italian Renaissance palazzo style.
The University Club on the corner of West 54th Street and Fifth Avenue
The University Club of New York at 1 West 54th Street
When reaching the corner of East 53rd Street another historic church, Saint Thomas Church Fifth Avenue stands guard. Though the church has been part of Manhattan since 1823, the current church was built here by 1914 and consecrated in 1916 as an Episcopal parish (Wiki).
The church was designed by architects Ralph Adams Cram and Bertram Grosvenor Goodhue of the firm Cram, Goodhue & Ferguson with added sculpture by Lee Lawrie. The building is designed in the French High Gothic style and has magnificent deals (Wiki). Even if you are not Episcopalian, going to services at the church is a nice experience. The services are always very relaxed and the Saint Thomas Choir of Men and Boys is excellent. The music and songs are wonderful to hear and the concerts in the afternoon and weekends are a treat.
On the corner of Fifth Avenue and 52nd Street sits a true jewel box in the Cartier store at 653 Fifth Avenue. The store was once home to Morton Freeman Plant, the son of railroad tycoon Henry B. Plant. The home was designed by architect Robert W. Gibson in 1905 in the ‘Neo-Renaissance style’. Mr. Plant felt later that the area was getting too ‘commercial’ and moved further uptown and Cartier bought the building in 1917 (Wiki).
Cartier finished a renovation on the store in 2016 to bring back the true beauty and elegance of the store and of the building. Don’t miss the opportunity to walk around inside and see the refined displays of merchandise.
The Cartier store after the renovation
Next to the Cartier store at 647 Fifth Avenue is the next Versace store which is housed in the left side of the Vanderbilt ‘ marble twin mansions. The Vanderbilt family had bought the land and built twin buildings on the site at 647-645 Fifth Avenue. Designed by architects Hunt & Hunt in 1902, the homes were first leased out as homes until about 1915 when businesses and trade came to the area.
647 Fifth Avenue in 1902
After passing out the Vanderbilt family in 1922, the building went through many incarnations and 645 Fifth Avenue was torn down for the Best & Company Department store in 1945 only to be torn down again in 1970 for the Olympic Tower (which still stands in the spot). The building was renovated in 1995 by Versace as their Fifth Avenue store and spent six million dollars to create the store that greets customers today.
The true catalyst and center of the luxury shopping district though is St. Patrick’s Cathedral which sits gracefully at the corner of Fifth Avenue between 51st and 50th Streets. The Diocese of New York was created in 1808 and the land for the Cathedral was bought in 1810. The Cathedral was to replace the one in lower Manhattan.
This current Cathedral was designed by architect James Resnick Jr. in the Gothic Revival style. Construction was started in 1850 and was halted because of the Civil War and continued in 1865. The Cathedral was completed in 1878 and dedicated in 1879. The Cathedral was renovated in 2013 and this shows its brilliance (Wiki).
During the holiday season the Cathedral is beautifully decorated and the music can be heard all over Fifth Avenue.
Next door to St. Patrick’s Cathedral is Saks Fifth Avenue’s headquarters. The business was founded by Andrew Saks in 1876 and was incorporated in 1902. After Mr. Saks died in 1912, the business was merged with Gimbels’ Brothers Department Store as Horace Saks was a cousin of Bernard Gimbel. In 1924, they opened the new store at 611 Fifth Avenue and changed the name of the store to Saks Fifth Avenue (The old store had been on 34th Street previously and called Saks 34th). The building was designed by architects Starrett & Van Vliet and designed in a ‘genteel, Anglophile classicized design’. (Wiki).
The store has recently gone through a major multi-million dollar renovation and is worth the time to look around the new first floor. The new cosmetic department is on the lower level along with jewelry so it is a different shopping experience. In its place, the handbag department has moved to the first floor.
Once you get to West 49th Street things start to change when you enter Rockefeller Center which is across the street from Saks Fifth Avenue. The Rockefeller Center complex covers 22 acres with 19 buildings including Radio City Music Hall and the famous ice skating rink that is holiday tradition once the famous tree is lite. The complex stretches from East 48th to East 51st Street from Fifth to Sixth Avenues. Rockefeller Center was built in two sections, the original 16 building of the complex and then the second section west of Sixth Avenue (Wiki).
Rockefeller Center at 45 Rockefeller Plaza on Fifth Avenue
The land under Rockefeller Center was owned by Columbia University (which was later sold) and the building of the complex started at the beginning of the Great Depression. Construction started in 1931 with the first section opening in 1933 and the remainder of the complex opening in 1939 (Wiki).
The original section of the complex was built in the ‘Art Deco style’ and the extension on Sixth Avenue was built in the ‘International style’. Three separate firms were hired to design the complex with the principal architects being Raymond Hood of Hood, Godley and Fouilhoux who was a student in the Art Deco style, Harvey Wiley Corbett and Wallace Harrison of Corbett, Harrison & McMurray and to lay the floor plans for the project L. Andrew Reinhard and Henry Hofmeister of Reinhard & Hofmeister. They were working under the Associated architects so that no one person could take the credit for the project (Wiki). Two of the original tenants including Radio Corporation of America (RCA) and National Broadcasting Company (NBC) which still exist.
The original section of Rockefeller Center
Radio City Music Hall, known for the elaborate shows and the Rockettes, was finished in 1932 and the ice-skating rink was finished in 1933 and the first Christmas tree was erected by the workers who were doing all the building.
The first tree in Rockefeller Center in 1933 with the constructions workers who erected it.
The rest of the complex went up over the next five years with extensions and renovations being done over the next fifty years. Many famous companies made Rockefeller Center their headquarters or moved their offices to the complex over the years. Still most tourists find their way to the restaurants and the famous rink at the holidays.
Rockefeller Center and the famous tree at Christmas 2022
Of all the beautiful artwork that line the walls and courtyards of the complex, two stand out. Prometheus is a beautiful statue that stands proud above the ice-skating rink. This beautiful cast iron, gilded sculpture was made in 1934 by artist Paul Manship. The work is of the Greek legend of Titan Prometheus who brought fire to mankind by stealing it from the Chariot of the Sun (Wiki).
Mr. Manship was a well-known American artist who noted for his specialized work in mythological pieces in the classic style. He was educated at the St. Paul School of Art and at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts.
The other standout statue is of the God Atlas that guards the courtyard of the International Buildings. The sculpture was created by artist Lee Lawrie with the help of Rene Paul Chambellan. The statue was created in the Art Deco style to match with the architecture of the Center and depicts Atlas carrying the celestial vault on his shoulders.
Atlas at Rockefeller Center
Mr. Lawrie was known as a architectural sculptor whose work is integrated into the building design. His work in the Art Deco design fit perfectly into the new building. Mr. Lawrie was a graduate of the School of Fine Arts at Yale.
Artist Lee Lawrie
Touring around Rockefeller Center can take a full afternoon itself especially at the holidays but in the summer months with the outdoor cafe open on the skating rink it is much more open.
Framing the view of Prometheus from the Channel Gardens are Youth and Maiden, which were originally commissioned as companion figures for Rockefeller Center’s famous fire god, one male and one female, to represent humankind.
Artist Paul Manship’s ‘Maiden’
Artist Paul Manship’s ‘Youth”
Originally placed on either side of the gilded Prometheus, each figure extends one hand to receive the gift of fire. The dramatic architecture surrounding Rockefeller Center’s Channel Gardens frames a major exhibition of sculpture by American artist Paul Howard Manship (Public Art Fund 1999).
Also visit the underground walkways of shops and restaurants and visit the new FAO Schwarz that opened in the center. In the winter months, it is fun to watch the skaters on the iconic ice rink. I then headed back down Fifth Avenue again to walk through Bryant Park.
Another former business that was well known on Fifth Avenue for years was located at 597 Fifth Avenue was Charles Scribner Sons Building. It originally housed the Charles Scribner Book Store replacing the old store on lower Fifth Avenue. The building at 597 Fifth Avenue was designed by architect Ernest Flagg in the Beaux Arts style between 1912-13 (Wiki).
The bookstore moved out in 1980 and the company became part of Barnes & Noble Bookstores and the building has been sold since. It now houses a Lululemon Athletica store but you can still see the Scribner’s name on the outside of the building and the Landmarked bookshelves inside the store.
The Charles Scribner Sons Building at 597 Fifth Avenue
The rest of Fifth Avenue is newer office buildings with retail space on the bottom levels some filled and some empty. When I was growing up, this part of Fifth Avenue was filled with high end stores. Today it is a combination of chain stores found in the suburbs or are just sitting empty, a trend found all over this part of Midtown East.
At 551 Fifth Avenue another interesting building, The Fred French Building really stands out. The building was created by architects H. Douglas Ives and Sloan & Robertson in 1927 in the ‘Art Deco Style’. Really look at the detail work all the up the building which was done in an ‘Eastern Design’ style with winged animals, griffins and golden beehives made to symbolize according to the architect ‘commerce and character and activities’ of the French companies. The outside material used on the building is faience, a glazed ceramic ware (Wiki).
The detail work on the top of the Fred French Building
From 43rd Street, I walked back up Fifth Avenue to the other side of the street and the buildings on this side of the street contains its share of architectural gems. The glass box building at 510 Fifth Avenue has always stood out to me. It was built in 1954 for the Manufacturers Trust Company. It was designed by architect Charles Evans Hughes III and Gordon Bunshaft of Skidmore, Evans & Merrill in the International style and recently has won awards for its extensive renovation. It had been used as a branch of Chase Bank until 2000 and now is used for retail stores (Wiki).
The lower part of this side of Fifth Avenue is going through a transition as a lot of buildings exteriors are either being renovated or the building itself is being knocked down and a new one is rising. Many of the buildings here are quite new or just don’t stand out.
I reached Bryant Park by the afternoon and it was just beautiful that afternoon. The park has gotten more crowded with each month that the City has opened. The tables and chairs are pretty much back to normal since the years of COVID have passed into memory (it is still with us) and people are back to socializing again. It has become one of the nicest parks in New York in comparison to what it was in the late 1980’s. It also has the nicest and cleanest public bathrooms in Manhattan so it is worth the wait in line.
Bryant Park was busy that day
Bryant Park just before the ice skating rink was taken down
Years ago when I worked in Manhattan in the early 90’s, Bryant Park was only used for drug dealing and criminal activity and was best avoided. What twenty years and a major renovation can do to a park. Today you can walk along the flowering paths and think you are in Paris. In the past there have been concerts and movies in the park but because of COVID-19, you can just sit in the park on a chair or bench and enjoy the sunshine and admire the flowers.
Just walking along the paths of Bryant Park in the Spring and Summer months can make you forget your troubles
I continued my walk of the Garment District passing the New York Public Library admiring the stone carvings and statuary that is part of the entrance of the famous library. The library had just had a recent refreshing and looked magnificent with the fountains flowing and patrons filling the tables outside the building.
The New York Public Library guards the borders of Murray Hill from Fifth Avenue (During COVID)
This famous iconic building was designed by the firm of Carrere and Hastings in the Beaux-Arts style and opened its doors May 23, 1911. The founding for this important library came from patronage of the wealth members of society who believed in the value education and opened it to the people.
The famous lion statues that grace the entrance of the library were designed by American sculptor Edward Clark Potter and they were carved by the Piccirilli Brothers, American stone carvers whose business was based in the Bronx.
The NY Public Library Lions are iconic
Edward Clark Potter is an American born artist who studied at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston and at the Academie Julian in Paris where he studied ‘animalier’, animal sculpture.
The Piccirilli Brothers were a family of stone carvers and artists in their own right who were from Massa, Italy and owned a business in the Bronx. There were responsible for many famous statues all over the City including the Maine Memorial in Columbus Circle and the Firemen’s Memorial in Riverside Park.
Artist Attilio Piccirillo , one of the most famous from the family
Another feature of the famous building and I had never noticed before was the elegant fountains that flank the entrance to the library. I did not realize that these fountains had just been restored in 2015 after thirty years of not functioning. They were restored with a grant from the Robert W. Wilson Charitable Trust (NYPL Site).
The fountain “Beauty”
The fountain “Truth”
These beautiful fountains were designed by artist Frederick MacMonnies, an American born artist who studied at the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris.
I relaxed under the trees and took a break from the walking. It is a funny thing that I have noticed at the park and it seems like no one is ever working. Everyone is either eating or talking. It has been so different since COVID started. You never see dressed business people in the park taking a break. It looks more like it is full of tourists visiting.
Enjoy the opening scene of “Ghostbusters” from 1984 shot at the NY Public Library:
Enjoy this scene from “Ghostbusters” from 1984 shot at the NY Public Library
The opening of the film “Ghostbusters” was shot inside the New York Public Library
Still when the park is in full bloom there is nothing like it. It is surrounded by classic architecture and beautiful buildings. They even were bringing back the “Bryant Park Film Festival” by the end of the summer. One Monday night I took a break from walking and watched the film “Moonstruck” which I had seen outside once at the Brooklyn Botanical Garden. Even though I had seen it hundreds of times since it came out I never tire of watching the film.
There have been many changes around Bryant Park in the last twenty years. Most of the older buildings of Times Square have been long knocked down and the area rebuilt which needed it. Now the impressive Bank of America building at 1111 Sixth Avenue (or also known as One Bryant Park) graces the corner of West 42nd Street and Sixth Avenue (trust me, no one in New York City calls Sixth Avenue “The Avenue of the Americas”).
This innovative building was designed by architect Rick Cook from the firm of Cookfox Adamson Associates. The building was designed with a clear ‘Curtain wall’ and several diagonal planes for wind resistance. The building was also awarded a LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) for sustainable ‘green’ architecture (Wiki/Durst website).
The further you walk down West 42nd Street, the more you see how the block has changed in the last thirty years. All the older theaters and office buildings were knocked down and cleared out back in the 1980’s when Times Square went through urban renewal. The more historical theaters and old hotels have since been refitted and renovated.
Across the street in Three Bryant Park’s plaza is an interesting statue entitled “The Guardians: Hero” by artist Antonio Pio Saracino. This unique sculpture in made in layers and created from marble set in precision stone. The statue is done in repeated planes of marble . The sculpture is a modern representation on Michelangelo’s “David” Stoneworld/APS Designs).
Artist Antonio Pio Saracino is an Italian born artist currently working in New York City. He is a graduate of Sapienza University of Rome and works as an architect and designer. He has had shows all over the world (Wiki).
At the corner of West 42nd Street and Broadway is the Knickerbocker Hotel at 6 Times Square. This hotel has had many incarnations over the years including an apartment house. As the neighborhood has improved, the historical buildings in the area have been renovated back to their former selves.
The Knickerbocker Hotel was built by John Jacob Astor IV and it opened in 1906. The hotel was designed by the firm of Marvin & Davis in the Beaux-Arts style. The outside of the hotel was built in red brick with terracotta details. The hotel was fully renovated in 2015 (Wiki).
One building that stands tall in Times Square is One Times Square known as 1475 Broadway. Once the home headquarters for the New York Times was opened in 1904. The building was designed by architect Cyrus L.W. Eidlitz. The original façade was of stone and terra cotta but this has been mostly stripped and is now home for mostly advertising. The ball still drops from the top of the building every New Year (Wiki).
One Times Square before the scaffolding went up
One Times Square with the lit ball for the New Year
What is left of the old ’42nd Street’ Theater District has been renovated and refitted of its historic theaters. The rest of the block was knocked down and new office buildings were built starting in the late 1980’s and throughout the 1990’s. This is still a major gateway to the City especially from the Lincoln Tunnel and the Port Authority (NYCEDC/42nd Street Redevelopment Project).
The original 42nd Street Redevelopment project (NYCEDC)
In the early 1980’s to the early 90’s until Mayor Rudy Giuliani took office, this area was being touted for redevelopment. It had started before the 1987 Stock Market Crash and then stalled for almost eight years. In the early 1990’s, the whole block between Seventh and Eighth Avenues along West 42nd Street were torn down, the theaters started to get renovated and new office buildings were built. If someone left New York City in 1990 and came back today, they would not recognize the neighborhood to the changes made.
Some of the changes has been the renovation and restoration of three beautiful theaters, the New Victory Theater at 209 West 42nd Street, the New Amsterdam Theater at 214 West 42nd Street and the former Empire Theater now the AMC Empire Theater at 234 West 42nd Street. Each of these architectural wonders used to be major theater houses before they became porn theaters and are now back to their original glory.
The New Victory Theater was one of the first theaters to reopen under the new plan.
The New Victory Theater was built by Oscar Hammerstein I in 1900 and was designed by architect Albert Westover. It opened as the Theatre Republic in 1900 and showed live stage shows. It did not become a movie theater until 1942 and by 1972 it became a porn theater. it resumed legitimate theater by the 1990’s when it was refurbished in 1995 and was the first theaters renovated in the 42nd Development plan (Wiki).
The New Amsterdam Theater is one of the oldest theaters in the area having been built between 1903 and 1904. The theater was built by Klaw and Erlanger for live theater and was designed by architects Herts & Tallant with a Beaux Arts exterior design and an Art Deco interior. The embellishments and details on the outside are quite elaborate (Wiki).
The theater was home to the Ziegfeld Follies from from 1913 to 1927 and hosted the elaborate shows of their day. It then was converted to a movie theater in 1937 until 1983 when it was leased to the Walt Disney company and renovated between 1995 and 1997. It is now operated by Disney Theatrical Productions for their live shows (Wiki/Walt Disney Company).
The former Empire Theater now the AMC Empire 25 was built in 1912 for producer Al H. Woods and was designed by architect Thomas W. Lamb in the Beaux Arts style. The theater was for live stage performances until 1943 when it was converted into a movie palace. It closed for good in the 1980’s as the area declined (Cinema Treasurers).
In 1998, the theater was moved from its location at 236 West 42nd Street and moved down the street to its present location at 234 West 42nd Street. The exterior was largely kept intact and the present theater interior was built inside of it enhancing the beauty of the present building (Cinema Treasurers/Wiki).
These theaters showed the testament of time and this type of architecture now is appreciated and being refitted to modern uses like the buildings I had seen in NoMAD (North of Madison Square Park) and in the Flatiron District.
A lot of the businesses on West 42nd Street heading back to the Port Authority have started opening up again. Sidewalk cafes were out with the warmer weather and customers were milling around. I saw this happening on my walks into the Hell’s Kitchen/Clinton section just north of the border of the Garment District.
The Port Authority at the edge of the Theater District is always busy.
After I reached the Port Authority, I double backed to West 44th Street to join Maricel for lunch at Virgil’s Barbecue. The restaurant was really crowded as “March Madness” had started and college basketball was in full swing. We had a group of Howard Alumni sitting behind us and by the end of lunch they looked heart broken as their team fell behind. There were plenty of other Alumni from other schools in the restaurant watching the games on the many TVs that lined the bar area of the restaurant.
We had not been to Virgil’s since before COVID hit. We used to come here quite often so it was nice to back. Lunch was wonderful. I had a much-needed Pulled Pork Sandwich with a bowl of homemade chicken soup. Maricel could not finish her Mac & Cheese, so she gave me the rest. It was a wonderful afternoon of food and great conversation. She actually asked how my walk in Manhattan was going. I reminded her that she was supposed to be doing this project with me originally. She laughed at that one. After lunch it was perfect after a long walk around the neighborhood.
The Pulled Pork Sandwich at Virgil’s with Mac & Cheese and a biscuit
It was a nice afternoon to walk around and to spend the rest of the afternoon with a good friend over wonderful food made it even better.
It is nice to see the Theater District come to life again after a long COVID slumber. It is going to interesting to see how the area develops now that all the theaters are open, and the tourists are coming back. Talk about a drastic change in just two years!