Tag Archives: Walk Around Manhattan

Day One Hundred and Sixty Two: “I Love New York” from the 1970’s, 80’s and Today! March 30th, 2020

I was just watching ’60 Minutes’ tonight and it has never been scarier to be in New York City. The hospitals are being over-whelmed by patients that are low on supplies and the medical staffs are tired, burnt out and still stepping up to the plate to help get people better. The streets are empty with people as the last of the tourists left two weeks ago and the crowded streets of Manhattan that only in December were packed with so many people that you could not walk seems like a distant memory.

NY Restaurant Show II

https://www.internationalrestaurantny.com/

What should have been a great night for everyone. Michigan State WON 80-69!

 

As you have read from my last two blog entries, I was in Manhattan from March 7th until March 10th walking the International Restaurant Show, watching the Michigan State-Ohio State Basketball game at Blondies Bar on the Upper West Side for who would be the Big Ten Champion (MSU won Go Green Go White) that Sunday night, at the Anthology Film Archives watching Sandra Bullock in “The Net” for a series the movie theater had on 1990’s Internet films on Monday night and then my last night in the City on Tuesday, March 10th for the Gerhard Richter Exhibition at the Met Breuer for a Private Members Night. All this while everything was going on around us.

Met Breuer

The Met Breuer at 945 Madison Avenue

https://www.metmuseum.org/visit/plan-your-visit/met-breuer

Anthology Film archives

The Anthology Film Archives at 32 Second Avenue

http://anthologyfilmarchives.org/

The night I went to the Anthology Film Archives,  I stopped in Chinatown first to go to Wonton Noodle Garden on Mott Street (see review on TripAdvisor) for dinner. What shocked me was how empty the place was that evening. This is a restaurant that is packed all the time and it is open until 2:00am. The only people who were there were myself and two tables of NYU students.

Wonton Noodle Garden II

Wonton Noodle Garden at 56 Mott Street

http://www.wontonnoodlegarden.com/

When I asked the waiter where everyone was, he through up his shoulders and said “Everything going on in the world”. I knew it did not look good that night as the rest of Chinatown was empty. The East Village was hopping with college students and the neighborhood around me was busy but you could feel the mood shifting.

Wonton Noodle Garden

Wonton Noodle Garden’s Cantonese Wonton Soup with Egg Noodles and Roast Pork can cure all ills.

‘The Net’ Trailer

Sandra Bullock can cheer anyone up!

I felt this at the Restaurant Show where you could walk down the aisles of the show and never bump into anyone. The Tuesday afternoon that I went in to see the show one last time by 3:30pm most people had packed up and gone. The show did not close until 4:30pm. They were ready to go by early that morning. So my last five days in Manhattan I felt the mood changing as people were not sure what to do.

That last night at the Met Breuer as  I walked the crowded floors of the museum enjoying the Gerard Richter Show before the opening to the public, I could hear in the corners members saying “I am really surprised they did not cancel this.” and “Could you believe this crowd with what’s going on?” It was like all of us knew this was the last night of “ballyhoo”.

 

Gerhard Ritcher artist

Artist Gerhard Richter in front of his works

https://www.gerhard-richter.com/en/

All over the world people are banding together to contribute what they can and keep the human spirit alive by volunteering where they can and helping one another out. I know that between my work at the College and the Fire Department everyone has me running around and my spirit of volunteerism is never lacking.

So to all my readers especially the ones who are displaced New Yorkers remember that New York City has seen it darker days in the past and has risen to overcome them. There is a real spirit in the City that is not replicated anywhere else in the world and we saw that in the 1970’s, 80’s 90’s and on 9/11 to current days.

That was until 1977 when we rediscovered that spirit and said “I LOVE New York!”

To cheer everyone up, I pulled the old campaign from YouTube from the dark days of the 1970’s and 80’s to show how the human spirit can overcome anything if we pull together. So this special entry of “MywalkinManhattan” is dedicated to all of you who will never let that spirit die both here and where you live now. We will get through this!

I love New York III

After all “WE LOVE NEW YORK!”

The song that started it all:

 

The original campaign videos:

 

 

 

 

New York City after 9/11:

 

 

 

The Original Campaign videos from the 1980’s 1-5:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How the “I LOVE NEW YORK” campaign came about:

 

This excellent documentary was done by a New York High School student in 2006.

 

Songs that represent the true spirit of New York City:

Native New Yorker by Odyssey:

 

The Great Liza Minnelli singing the best version of “New York New York”

 

We will get through this everyone and God Speed!

Day One Hundred and Fifty-Eight: Walking the Streets of Central Park South from West 58th to West 55th Streets from Eighth to Fifth Avenues December 6th, 2019-January 8th, 2020

The darker days of the Fall have come and it is starting to get dark at 4:30pm in the afternoon. It gets so depressing sometimes. Still this part of the City is dressed up for the Christmas holidays so all is still cheerful with sparking lights and window displays. The hotels and department stores in the neighborhood are in full swing and everyone is getting ready for the holidays.

Putting the Sinterklaas Parade behind me and visits to decorated mansions in New York and New Jersey for my blog, “VisitingaMuseum.com” (if I saw one more house decorated with garland I would have screamed), I was able to concentrate on finishing Central Park South. Even though it is a smaller neighborhood it still takes time to walk these busy streets. There is a lot to see and do in Central Park South. Between admiring the hotels decorated for the holidays and attending a show at Carnegie Hall for Christmas (I love my research), it was a lot of walking around admiring buildings and street art as well as watching the tourists rush around the area. Central Park keeps everyone busy no matter what the temperature.

According to the history of the area, Central Park South has transformed itself over the last fifty years from a fashionable residential area to a commercial neighborhood and now back to fashionable residential area with some of those very same buildings that were turned to office space and now back to expensive condos.

My walk started on a rather cool afternoon in December. I miss those days in December in 2015 when El Nino was affected the weather and it was 60 degrees. It was a cool 40 degrees and rather cloudy. Still it was a brisk day for a walk.

I started to walk the interior streets from the borders from West 55th to West 58th Streets dodging office workers and tourists. The character of the streets changes from Eighth Avenue to Fifth Avenue. The more classic elegant stone townhouses still surround Fifth Avenue whereas by Eighth Avenue and Broadway, new office buildings dominate.

After a morning of working at Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen (we had no extra bread in the Extra Bread station), I went to see the early silent horror film, “The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari” at the Museum of Modern Art. It was an interesting film with a lot of twists and makes you aware of who is really crazy in this film. It is interesting to note how this film has held up in almost 90 years. After the movie, I walked out the back door to West 55th Street and started walking.

My start point was West 55th Street,  walking under scaffolding all over the place and noticing reminders of the City when it was on the verge of bankruptcy. When I was kid the New York City Center was on the verge of being knocked down and it was a group of artists that saved the complex. The theater at 131 West 55th Street was built in 1923 designed by architect Harry P. Knowles from the firm of Clinton & Russell.

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The New York City Center at 131 West 55th Street

The building was designed in the ‘Neo-Moorish style’ with interesting terra cotta tile work and murals. The building was originally called the “Mecca Temple” and was used by the Shriner’s for their meetings but its purpose changed after the Crash of 1929 and it became City property. Mayor La Guardia turned it into the performing arts center in 1943. Having faced two bouts with demolition in both the 40’s and 70’s, it has now been land-marked in 1984 and is home to Encores Off-Center (Wiki).

Across the street from the City Center, I came across Myzel’s Chocolates at 140 West 55th Street. Now, I have been walking around this area all my life and could not understand how I missed this wonderful little candy shop. It is such a tiny space but packed with lots of character and a lot of delicious candy.

Myzel's Chocolates

Myzel’s Chocolates at 140 West 55th Street

The shop was opened in 1990 by Kamila Myzel and her mother, Alina and is known for their handmade chocolates and cookies plus an array of licorice, chocolates and decorative gift items. When she opened the shop in 1990, Ms. Myzel was noted in saying “I love any nuts, chocolate with nuts, almond bark and marzipan. My chocolate is good quality for ordinary people.” (NYT 2009).

Myzel's Chocolates II

Kamila Myzel minding the store at Myzel’s Chocolates

This love of her product shows not just in her merchandising (See review on TripAdvisor and LittleShoponMainStreet@Wordpress.com) but in the customer service she gives. Even though I was only in to look I could see her eyeing me to see what I would buy while she chatted with a customer she knew. I loved the size of the store, which is tiny, in comparison with the ten people squeezed into the space jocking for her attention. I loved the festive atmosphere as the store was decorated for Christmas.

On a more recent trip to Myzel’s Chocolate, the store was decked out for Valentine’s Day and everything was splashed with the color red. It was quiet enough where I could finally sample the delightful treats that they sell. I tried one of her Chocolate Chip cookies that they are well know for ($11.95 a pound) and a chocolate covered Marshmallow ($9.95 a pound) and both were very good.

The chocolate chip cookie was loaded with butter and chocolate chunks and had a crisp body and a nice caramelized sweetness to it. The chocolate covered marshmallow  was enrobed in a thick milk chocolate and had a rich sweetness in every bite. I think the marshmallow was freshly made as well.

As I continued down West 55th Street, I almost missed the historical Rockefeller Apartments at 24 West 55th Street that was hiding under that neighborhood scaffolding. The complex was built in 1936 by Rockefeller family architects Wallace Harrison and Andre Fouilhoux and was designed in the ‘International Style” and was noted for changing our perspective in light and air in building design (HMdg.org).

Rockefeller Apartments

Rockefeller Apartments 24 West 55th Street

At the end of the block on the corner of Fifth Avenue and West 55th Street is the Peninsula Hotel. This elegant hotel was built in 1905 in the Neo-Classic style as the Gotham Hotel and was bought from bankruptcy in 1988 to the Peninsula Group as their New York property.

Penisula Hotel Christmas II

Christmas at The Peninsula Hotel at 700 Fifth Avenue

I was able to walk for a bit inside the hotel which was lavishly decorated for the Christmas holidays with all sorts of trees, lights and Santa’s. I could barely walk around with all the tourists taking pictures.

Penisula Hotel Christmas.jpg

 

The entrance to the Peninsula Hotel at Christmas

The Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church at 7 West 55th Street is across the street from the Peninsula and was also decorated with lights and garland for the holidays. There was music playing inside as mass was going on at that time of the day. The Church had been built in 1875 by architects George B. Post and finished by Carl Pfeiffer. You really have to look up at the elegant details of this church that was designed in the Victorian Gothic design (Wiki).

Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church

Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church at 7 West 55th Avenue

On my way back down West 55th Street, I stopped for some lunch at the Star Stage  Deli at 101 West 55th Street (see review on TripAdvisor). In all the times I had been in this neighborhood over the years, I had never noticed the restaurant before. It is a little hole in the wall that is a throwback to the restaurants that used to dot Manhattan all through the 70’s and 80’s until they were pushed out for the expensive ‘revolving door’ restaurants that keep opening and closing in the area.

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Star Stage Deli at 101 West 55th Street

At first I was going to have a Cheeseburger platter but when I saw the guy behind the counter throw an already cooked burger on the grill I quickly changed my mind and had the Chicken Parmesan and Baked Ziti platter ($8.95) with a Coke because it looked much fresher. It was delicious and I highly recommend it. You got two big pieces of breaded chicken breast in a delicious tomato sauce with several nice sized scoops of baked ziti. The meal could have fed two people and was enough food to re-energize me. There are all sorts of specials that run under $10.00.

When walking back to Eighth Avenue, there is a series of hotels that you will pass all them decorated for the holidays. The Wellington Hotel at 871 Seventh Avenue was decked out for the holidays with lots of white lights and garlands all over the street level Park Cafe windows.  This 27 story hotel was built in 1911 and designed by architect Robert T. Lyons. The entrances and facade of the building are done in polished granite and bronze.

Wellington Hotel.jpg

The Hotel Wellington at 871 Seventh Avenue

On the corner of West 55th Street and Broadway is the Dream Hotel at 210 West 55th Street which was lavishly decorated in and out for Christmas. Garland, trees and lights are all over the exterior of the building making it very festive. The hotel is housed in a series of renovated buildings with the main one on the corner of Broadway which was built in 1895 in the Beaux-Arts style (Dream Hotels Bio).

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The Dream Hotel at the corner of Broadway and West 55th Street

At the end of the block is the well known McGee’s Pub at 240 West 55th Street. McGee’s has been known to be the inspiration for MacLarsen’s Bar in the popular CBS sitcom “How I met your Mother”. The restaurant has been around for years and reflects the changes in time by the whole neighborhood begin knocked down around it. It almost reminds me of PJ Clarks on the Westside of Manhattan with a modern skyscraper surrounding it.

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McGee’s Pub at 240 West 55th Street

As I turned onto West 56th Street, I came across another iconic restaurant that I have eaten at many times, Patsy’s at 236 West 56th Street (see reviews on TripAdvisor). I love the food here. The pastas are all freshly made and their Fried Mozzarella is so well prepared and their Mariana sauce is so flavorful. The service is excellent and I always enjoy eating there.

Patsy’s was founded in 1944 by Pasquale “Patsy” Scognamillo and has been in its current location since 1954 serving locals, celebrities and tourists alike. There has only been three chefs at Patsy’s, Patsy himself, his son, Joe and Joe’s son Sal (Patsy’s history).

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Patsy’s Restaurant at 236 West 56th Street

The last time I had dinner there before the theater the food was amazing (see my review on TripAdvisor). I had the Mozzarella in Carrozza ($24.00) for two which I finished on my own. It is basically a breaded mozzarella sandwich with their fresh Mariana sauce which were pan-fried perfectly and melted in the middle.

Patsy's Restaurant II

The Mozzarella in Carrozza at Patsy’s is excellent

For the entree I had the Lobster with Linguine Oreganata, which I had seen prepared on the Travel Network and feeling generous to myself at the holidays, I treated myself. It was excellent. Perfectly cooked pasta with almost a half of sweet lobster topped on the dish.

The best part of the evening was that I got to meet Sal, the chef on the way out and I told him about my meal and how I ordered it because of the Travel Network show. Then I added how much I loved the meal. He was so nice and gave me a jar of his Mariana sauce and told me to enjoy it at home. I thought he was a great guy and good businessman.

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Chef Sal Scognamillo of Patsy’s Restaurant

On the back part of the City Center is The Writers Room plaque dedicated the writers of Sid Caesar’s “The Show of Shows”. Some of the most famous writers and comedians had worked on this show and went on to their own famous careers.

Writers Room.jpg

This plaque is located on the back of The City Center on the West 56th side of the building

In the corridor of The Malborough Building at 40 West 57th Street which runs to West 56th Street is an exhibition of artist Tom Otteness’s work. Don’t miss this open air art exhibition on the artist’s work.

Marborough Building Tom Otteness

The Marlborough Building open air exhibition of Tom Otteness works

Marborough Building Tom Otteness II.jpg

Each of the works is very interesting

Tom Otterness Artist

Artist Tom Otteness

http://www.tomostudio.com/

http://www.tomostudio.com/about

The artist studied at the Arts League of New York and is well known for his work on public art. He art has graced many parts of New York City including an exhibition of “Tom Otteness on Broadway” which ran from Columbus Circle to 168th Street. Don’t miss this interesting open air exhibition that stretches from West 56th to West 57th Streets.

On the corner of Seventh Avenue and West 55th West  and 56th Streets at 881 Seventh Avenue is Carnegie Hall which is all decked out for the holidays. This palace of entertainment was designed by architect William Burnet Tuthill and built by industrialist Andrew Carnegie. It is one of the biggest buildings in New York built entirely of masonry without a steel frame Wiki).

Carnegie Hall Christmas II

Carnegie Hall at 881 Seventh Avenue at Christmas is beautiful

At the last minute I got the last ticket to “New York Pops with Frank and Ella” on Friday December 20th and off I went to enjoy the concert. It was a really cool night that evening and it was nice to see so many people dressed for the occasion. I even saw a few mink coats out.

I really enjoyed the concert and talk about putting you in the Christmas spirit. I had not been Carnegie Hall since the concert last year. The stage was so tastefully decorated and the New York Pops entertained us first. We started with a round of traditional Christmas songs before the show started and ‘Deck the Halls’ was one of the songs on the schedule.

 

The New York Pops performing “Deck the Halls”

The concert “A Frank and Ella Christmas” starred Tony DeSare and Capathia Jenkins sang the songs of Frank Sinatra and Ella Fitzgerald. Essential Voices USA provided the background singing and backup and they were excellent.

Tony DeSare singing “Have yourself a Merry Little Christmas”

What I love about this concert is one of the events at the holidays I look forward to as it always puts me in the holiday mood. Carnegie Hall is always sold out for both nights of the concerts as I think everyone else feels the way I do.

Last year, the only seat left was on the aisle and Santa himself was standing next me when he entered the concert hall to start the sing a long. For a split second, I really believed. That’s how much this concert puts you in to the proper holiday spirit. What I loved the most about the concert was the sing a long at the end of the concert and I mean everyone sings! It is really something. That’s the wonderful memory I have when I walk past Carnegie Hall.

As I headed back to Eighth Avenue, I passed one of the best McDonald’s (see my reviews on TripAdvisor) in the City at 946 Eighth Avenue on the corner Eighth Avenue and West 55th Street. I have eaten at this McDonald’s so many times in the series of walks for this project that I can’t even count them on my finger. The food here is really good and the service is very quick. When there is no alternative before the movies or theater, this is the go to place for a McDouble or Premium Chicken sandwich.

Sitting at the head of the neighborhood is the Hearst Publishing Building at 300 West 57th Street between West 56th and 57th Streets. This impressive building was built in two stages. The first part of the building was built in 1928 by architect Joseph Urban as the headquarters of Hearst Publications for William Randolph Hearst. The rest of the building was not completed due to the Great Depression (Wiki).

Hearst Tower II

The original part of the building by architect Joseph Urban

The newer part of the building was completed eighty years later and was finished in 2006. This 46 story tower was designed by architect Norman Foster and is designed in triangle grid called a “diagrid” and won many awards as one of New York’s first ‘green buildings’ (Wiki). Look up at this unusual design and the contrasts of the two parts of the building.

Hearst Tower III

 

The Hearst Tower designed by architect Norman Foster

I rounded West 57th Street and walked past many familiar buildings from crossing the neighborhood but there are many well known restaurants and stores on this block. There is a lot of excitement with the new Nordstrom department store that opened on the corner of Broadway and West 57th Street at 225 West 57th Street.

The store is one of the largest and single project investments in Nordstrom history. There is seven levels of merchandise, six restaurants and an extensive list of services for the customers. The store forms the base of one of the largest residential buildings in the Western Hemisphere and is the combination of old and new. It is the first department store to open in New York City since the 1920’s. With a facade of large windows and lots of natural light you can see the happenings in the store from street level (Nordstrom Press Release).

During the three times I walk through the store is was indeed busy with lots of hipster employees walking around but most were on their cellphones and the customers seemed to be looking around. The restaurants were mostly full the nights I was there but the one thing I did not see was shopping bags leaving the store. I did not see one Nordstrom bag on the streets in the neighborhood. It is going to be interesting to see how the store does during its first Christmas especially with the Lord & Taylor flagship closing on Fifth Avenue and West 38th Street and Barney’s on Madison Avenue.

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The new Nordstrom at 225 West 57th Street

Further down the street I passed the Osborne Apartments at 205 West 57th Street. These iconic condos were built between 1883-1885 by architect James Edward Ware in a rusticated brownstone outside to the building and an ‘American Renaissance’ in the detailed foyer and public rooms (Wiki). The building is truly one of kind and its apartment structure a time of ‘Gilded Age’.

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The Osborne Apartments at 205 West 57th Street

The elaborate lobby is something to see. It has stuccoed and mosaic tiled floors with use of Italian marble. The walls are covered in glazed terra-cotta panels and the ceilings are covered in different colored hues (Wiki).

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The details of the Osborne Apartment’s lobby

Near the Osborne Apartments at 200 West 57th Street at the corner of Seventh Avenue is the Rodin Studio Apartments. This beautifully detailed building was built in 1917 by architect Cass Gilbert, who had designed the Woolworth Building downtown.  The building was designed as studios for artists and combination studio/living spaces thus the name Rodin after the artist Auguste Rodin. The building had been the brainchild of a groups of established artists (Daytonian Manhattan).

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The Rodin Studios building at 200 West 57th Street

The building, like the Woolworth Building, is designed in ‘white terra-cotta Gothic Revival’ with lots of windows to let in the natural light. You will have to look up from the other side of the street to see the interesting details of the building. The exterior of the building just went through a full renovation.

Another well-known iconic restaurant is located in the neighborhood that has always catered to the theater and business crowd alike, the Russian Tea Room at 150 West 57th Street right next to Carnegie Hall. I have been in this restaurant many times over the years and the renovations twenty years ago made it a little ‘glitzy and over the top’ in design.

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The entrance to the Russian Tea Room at 150 West 57th Street

The restaurant had opened in 1927 by a group of Russian Ballet expatriates as a gathering place and it then got the reputation as a place for the entertainment industry to gather for lunch and dinner. The restaurant had a series of owners but when Warner LeRoy bought the restaurant in 1996 and when he closed it he took a very nice elegant restaurant and turned it into another “Tavern on the Green” with garish decor.

The food and atmosphere was never the same both to many New Yorkers, who left it for the tourists and in many meals I have had there in recent history, the last one being in April of 2011 for my father’s birthday/Christmas present one month before he got sick. That evening has special meaning to me now.

In the years that I ate at the restaurant during the holidays in the early 90’s, my brother and I would see celebrities all the time in the other booths. Our last meal there before it closed for renovations in 1996, we sat next to Sylvia Miles, who recently passed away in the summer of 2019. But that night she held court in the restaurant and our attention especially to my brother who kept nudging me that she was there. This was when dining there was a special event and the food was really good. Today you get a ‘watered down’ version of Russian cooking. (I would not recommend it in this blog.)

Many movies were shot there but this scene from Tootsie in 1982 captured the mood of the restaurant in the 1980’s.

 

One of the funniest scenes of a movie shot in the Russian Tea Room from the movie “Tootsie” in 1982

There was more interesting apartment buildings to see in the neighborhood another located at 130 West 57th Street. This elegant building was built between 1907-08 by architects Pollard & Steinam in the ‘Art Deco style”. This building was also created as artists studios/residences when this was a creative residential district.

130 West 57th Street

130 West 57th Street

At the end of the block, I revisited Bergdorf Goodman at 754 Fifth Avenue that runs from West 57th to 58th Streets opposite of the Plaza Hotel. This palace of luxury was founded in 1899 by Herman Bergdorf and later owned by Edward Goodman. The store when you look at it was designed as a series of buildings that could have been broken into shops had the business not done well. During the Depression, the store thrived and Edward Goodman bought up the remaining parts of the building to reconfigure the store into its present form (Wiki).

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The Palace of Luxury Bergdorf Goodman at 754 Fifth Avenue is fun to visit

It is a fun way to spend the afternoon taking the escalator to the various floors and look at how the clothes are displayed and examine the beautiful jewelry and handbags. It also had one of the nicest perfume departments in the county with items found no where else in the United States. Having worked there in 2004, I found it a unique experience to my retailing career and I still enjoy talking to James, the doorman who works there.

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The new Jewelry Salon at Bergdorf-Goodman

Right down the road from Bergdorf-Goodman at 35 West 57th Street is the loneliest looking stone mansion that new houses a deli. This magnificent mansion is the Schieffelin-Bowne  Mansion that was built in 1891 by Margaret Vanderbilt Shepard for her daughter, Maria Louise Vanderbilt Shepard for her marriage to William Jay Schieffelin, a member of a drug manufacturing family and the grandson of John Jay, the first Chief Justice. The house was a few steps from the large mansion of Cornelius Vanderbilt II, which was one the location of Bergdorf-Goodman (Daytonian 2012).

35 West 57th Street

The Vanderbilt Mansion at 35 West 57th Street sits lonely now

The house was sold to millionaire Samuel Bowne in 1898 when the Schieffelin’s moved to East 66th Street. Mr. Bowne suffered a stoke around 1909 and died a year later. His widow sold the house and moved to Florida and died in 1930. Since 1930, the mansion has been used for commercial purposes and sits next to a construction site as a sad reminder of how fashionable the neighborhood was once (Daytonian 2012). It could used a good cleaning.

At 57 West 57 Street on the corner of West 57th and Seventh Avenue is a beautiful Art Deco office/apartment building that was built in 1928. The building has interesting details from the gilded facial imagines on the cornices to the marble front and lobby inside. Really look at the artwork carved into the outside of the building. Der Scott, the architect of Trump Tower renovated the building in 1988 and added many of the details to the building.

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57 West 57th Street is a gilded Art Deco Building

Another beautiful building at 123 West 57th Street #3 is the Calvary Baptist Church which stands guard amongst its more modern neighbors. This interesting church is an example of a ‘skyrise church’ as it is a sixteen story building. It was built in 1929 by architects Jardine, Hall & Murdock and the building was dedicated in 1931 (Wiki). Take a look up at the stone carvings and intricate design of the stone work.

Calvary Baptist Church

Calvary Baptist Church at 123 West 57th Street

I started my third afternoon in the neighborhood back at the Turnstyle Underground Market at 1000S 8th Avenue which is in the subway station under the Time Warner Building. This surprising little food court has some innovative and very reasonable restaurants. Last time I ate here was at Daa! Dumplings, the Russian dumpling restaurant and this time I ate at Champion Pizza at the end of the court after eyeing a Mac & Cheese Pizza in the display window.

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Champion Pizza in the Turnstyle Underground Food Court

After deciding on that and a Coke (see Review on TripAdvisor), I sat down at one of the busy tables with high school students and tourist staring into their phones. The pizza was delicious and tasted like Kraft Mac & Cheese topped with mozzarella on the top. After my lunch, I was ready for a long walk.

I rounded the corner and entered the more commercial West 58th Street in the early afternoon. This is an interesting block as you head past Seventh Avenue the street is lined with the back of the New York Athletic Club, the Park Lane Hotel and the Plaza Hotel.

One of the more interesting buildings is the Central Park Mews at 117 West 58th Street. This interesting brick apartment building was built in 1900 and show a lot of character with its marble and brick facade. Look at the stone details around the building and interesting windows towards the top.

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Central Park Mews at 117 West 58th Street really stands out

At the end of West 58th Street towards Bergdorf-Goodman is the now closed Paris Theater at 4 West 58th Street, which was once a major art movie theater and noted for its edgy releases. Now Netflix has reopened it for their releases to the public before they start screening films on TV. The 71 year old theater is seeing new life and a lot of new patrons (NYTimes 2019). The theater is the last single screen theater in New York City.

Paris Theater

The Paris Theater at 4 West 58th Street is now leased by Netflix

Just outside theater and in front of 9 West 58th Street, the Solow Building,  is an unusual and very strange statue standing guard on the street. This is “Moonbird” by artist Joan Miro. This strange fourteen foot abstract sculpture had replaced an Alexander Calder sculpture that had been once stood here.

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‘Moonbird’ by Joan Miro from 1966 in front of the Solow Building

The sculpture was created in smaller forms in 1966 and was noted as having a cosmic connection to nature. The sculpture was derived from a connection the artist had in the world of birds and the terrestrial and celestial worlds (Artworld 1988).

Joan Miro was a Spanish born painter, sculptor and ceramicist whose art gravitated towards Surrealism,  whose goal it is to liberate thought, language and human experience from the boundaries of rationalism (Artworld).  The artist had studied at the Cerle Artistic de Sant Lluc and held is first solo show in 1918 (Wiki).

Joan Miro

Artist Joan Miro in his later years

https://www.theartstory.org/artist/miro-joan/

When crossing the street into the Plaza Hotel and know the hotel of its heyday, it is a much smaller and more compact hotel. When enter from the back of the Plaza Hotel you will come across The Shops at the Plaza Hotel and the Plaza Hotel Food Hall inside the basement area of the hotel at Central Park South and Fifth Avenue.

There is a selection of expensive stores and small restaurants inside the Food Hall. You can choose from bakery items, Chinese, Italian and sandwiches. The Shops has an exclusive Plaza boutique and an Eloise shop that even has a tea room for children’s tea parties. There is a nice selection places to visit if money is not the object.

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The Shops at the Plaza Hotel and the Plaza Hotel Food Hall are interesting to visit

When exiting the back of the Plaza Hotel, you will see the service areas and backs of some of the most famous hotels facing Central Park. As you head back down West 58th Street, there are two side by side buildings you might miss under all the scaffolding all over the block.

Tucked behind scaffolding is 213 West 58th Street, now the Unity Center of New York but when it was built was the stables/garage of Helen Gould Miller. The structure was built in 1910 by architects York & Sawyer in the ‘French Renaissance style’ for the daughter of financier Jay Gould. This was the home of her carriages and then cars with apartments for the coachman and then chauffeur. Even in the shadows of all the construction you can see the detailed stone work and carved details of the building.

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213 West 58th Street, The Helen Gould Miller Stables

Next door at 215 West 58th Street is Engine 23, “The Lion’s Den” a FDNY Firehouse that was established on October 6th, 1865 as one of the oldest companies in New York City and two months after the department became paid. The original company had been established in 1810 as Equitable Company 36 then as Harry Howard Volunteer Company named after the Department Chief Engineer.

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Engine 23 at 215 West 58th Street “The Lion’s Den”

The building was designed by architect Alexander H. Stevens between 1905-06 in the ‘Beaux Arts style’ (New York YIMPY).

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Engine 23, “The Lion’s Den”

I ended the walk at the Museum of Art & Design at 2 Columbus Circle on the very edge of the neighborhood. This unique museum I have written about many times in my VisitingaMuseum.com site. The museum was opened in 1956 to celebrate American craftsmanship and in it’s current incarnation established at its present site in 2008, the museum studies the art and design process dealing with many art forms including movies, music, painting, jewelry and clothing & textiles (See my review on TripAdvisor and VisitingaMuseum.com)

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The Museum of Art & Design at 2 Columbus Circle on the very edge of Central Park South

I went to a walking tour of the museum highlights and then visited the Anna Sui exhibition of her clothing, accessories and cosmetics. Her clothing is an interesting art form itself with each season it gets more interesting.

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Designer Anna Sui

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The collections of Anna Sui at the Museum of Art & Design at 2 Columbus Circle

The walk of the neighborhood ended with dinner at China Gourmet, a tiny hole in the wall restaurant at 877 8th Avenue (see review on TripAdvisor) that I had passed walking up to the neighborhood. This is a big restaurant with the office workers in the area and had been packed for lunch. I had a Sweet & Sour Pork combination platter with an egg roll and Coke ($10.95).

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China Gourmet at 877 8th Avenue is in Hell’s Kitchen

Even though the portion size was large and the food fresh it tasted like the wok had not been cleaned or the oil was old. The meal was okay but still the place bustled and the most interesting characters walked in and out of the restaurant. There was no lack of entertainment in the customers here at 9:00pm at night.

To end the evening, I went to Rockefeller Center to see the Christmas tree which was surprisingly still up on January 8th. Much less crowded than the week before, I was able to walk around the rink and watch the skaters and admire the tree from afar with the gaping tourists taking ‘selfies’ all over the place. I will tell you that tourists spend more time in Manhattan taking pictures than actually admiring what is around them. That is such a pity as I think you miss more if you don’t actually look at what is surrounding you as you walk around.

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The Rockefeller Christmas tree January 8th, 2020

 

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year 2020!

 

Places to Eat:

 

Star Stage Deli

101 West 55th Street

New York, NY  10019

(212) 541-4650

http://www.stagestardeli.com/

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

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d4369641-Reviews-Stage_Star_Deli-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

 

Patsy’s Restaurant

236 West 56th Street

New York, NY  10019

(212) 247-3491

https://www.patsys.com/

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

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d478026-Reviews-Patsy_s_Italian_Restaurant-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

 

Myzel’s Chocolates

140 West 55th Street

New York, NY 10019

(212) 245-4233

http://www.myzels.com/

https://www.facebook.com/Myzels-Chocolates-332431326808571/

Open: Sunday Closed/Monday-Friday 11:00am-7:00pm/Saturday 12:00pm-5:00pm

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g60763-d3671775-Reviews-Myzel_s_Chocolate-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

My review on LittleShoponMainStreet@Wordpress.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/littleshoponmainstreet.wordpress.com/556

 

McDonald’s

946 Eighth Avenue

New York, NY  10019

(212) 586-6676

https://www.mcdonalds.com/us/en-us/full-menu.html?cid=RF:YXT_LS:SI::MGBM

Open: 24 hours, 7 days a week

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d4468379-Reviews-McDonald_s-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/diningonashoestringinnyc.wordpress.com/541

 

Champion Pizza

1000 South 8th Avenue

New York, NY  10019

(212) 315-3335

http://www.championpizzanyc.com

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

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d12849399-Reviews-Champion_Pizza-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

 

China Gourmet

877 8th Avenue

New York, NY

(212) 246-8181/8191/Fax: (212) 246-2124

http://www.chinagourmet8ave.com

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

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d3385484-Reviews-China_Gourmet-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

 

Places to Visit:

 

The Shops at the Plaza Hotel/Plaza Hotel Food Court

Fifth Avenue at Central Park South

New York, NY 10019

(212) 759-3000

plazareservation@fairmont.com

Open: Sunday 11:00am-6:00pm/Monday-Saturday 10:00am-8:00pm

Shops

The Plaza Food Hall

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d3643072-Reviews-Food_Court-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

 

The Turnstyle Underground Market

1000S 8th Avenue

New York, NY  10019

(646) 768-9222

Open: 24 hours (not every restaurant)

https://www.turn-style.com/

https://www.turn-style.com/food-hall

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d11888820-Reviews-Turnstyle-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

 

Museum of Art & Design

2 Columbus Circle

New York, NY  10019

(212) 229-7777

https://madmuseum.org/

Open: Sunday 10:00am-6:00pm/Monday Closed/Tuesday-Wednesday 10:00am-6:00pm/Thursday 10:00am-9:00pm/Friday-Saturday 10:00am-6:00pm

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g60763-d524927-Reviews-Museum_of_Arts_and_Design-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

My review on VisitingaMuseum.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/visitingamuseum.com/2998

All the interesting buildings in the neighborhood I have mentioned by address and you should take the time to really look up at these beautiful structures. There are coming down too fast to make way for new things.

 

 

 

Day One Hundred and Fifty Four Walking the Avenues of Central Park South from Sixth to Seventh Avenues from West 59th to West 54th Streets November 8th, 2019

I have never seen such a drop in temperature in one week. It is only a week since Halloween and on Halloween night it was 71 degrees and humid. I had to turn the heat off in the house and turn the air conditioner on one last time before I went to bed. That was unusual but the reason why I keep the air conditioners up until the weekend after Halloween.

Walking the Avenues of Central Park South this afternoon there was a distinct drop in the temperature by the afternoon. It was freezing in the City by 2:30pm. When I came out of the Cornell Club where I was doing all of my work, it must have been around 48 degrees and continued to go down. By the time I finished walking all of the Avenues, it must have been 40 degrees as the sun went down. I could tell by the way everyone was dressed this afternoon that no one was prepared for this.

I started my walk at Hop Won Chinese Restaurant at 139 East 45th Street for lunch (see reviews on TripAdvisor and DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com). The food at the restaurant is always impressive and very reasonable. A combination platter is $9.00 for an nice sized entree, fried rice and an egg roll. On this trip I had the Sweet & Sour Shrimp with fried rice and an egg roll and a Coke ($10.95 with tax) and your could not beat the portion size or quality.

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Hop Won Express serves excellent Chinese-American cooking and is reasonable

They served me eight nice sized tempura shrimp in a light sweet and sour sauce and they were sweet and fresh. Their fried rice is very good, a little light sometimes on the ingredients but still good and the egg rolls here are good. This is why the restaurant is so popular at lunch hour for people in the surrounding office buildings and with tourists.

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The Sweet & Sour Shrimp here should not be missed

After lunch, I walked up Lexington Avenue to East 59th Street and walked across the familiar neighborhoods of Turtle Bay and Midtown East which I had finished walking over the summer. Both are going through extensive changes with renovations and refittings of older buildings and the knock down and total construction of new ones. The Manhattan of the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s is slowly becoming a memory as the City morphs into its next step of existence, which seems to be very upscale. The commercial and residential buildings are definitely catering to a certain clientele.

I started my walk on the Avenues of Central Park South at the corner of Sixth Avenue and 59th Street. This section of Manhattan is some of the most expensive real estate in the world and with the changing of the neighborhood and rents skyrocketing, I saw a big change not just in the buildings with their updates and renovations but a change in the businesses as well. Those 1990’s leases are coming up on their twenty year anniversaries and a lot of smaller businesses are being pushed out. If you do not own the building or have a certain lease with the landlord, you might be facing a double or triple increase in rent and its too much for the smaller restaurants and services like drycleaners and shoe repair shops.

Sixth Avenue (or Avenue of the Americans which NO ONE calls it) has seen a lot of changes over the years especially from Central Park all the way down to West 34th Street and it still is changing as we speak. Yet there traces of the old Manhattan that still stand out on the Avenue.

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57 West 58th Street The Coronet, an 11 story brick building

At the corner of West 58th Street is 57 West 58th Street, The Coronet Building, a 11 story condominium building that was built in 1901. The building is built of red brick and limestone and what gives it its unique look is in the detail work of the entrance with its arched entrance and quoins, a type of wedging on an angle, that are made of limestone and detail work around the windows. The Beaux Arts detail work was very fashionable at the time (CityRealty 2018).

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The beauty of the entrance to 57 West 58th Street

Another standout building on Sixth Avenue is one that sits on the corner of 57 West 57th Street. This 20 story Art Deco Building was was built in 1928 of stone and glass and was renovated in 1988 by Der Scutt, the architect behind Trump Tower.

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57 West 57th Street beauty is in the Art Deco details

They restored the facade of the building and redid the lobby . Some the details of the building were gold-leafed for effect (LoopNet).

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The entrance 57 West 57th Street with the fancy grill work

At the edge of the neighborhood is the famous New York Hilton Hotel Midtown at the corner of Sixth Avenue and West 54th Street. This hotel is the largest hotel in New York City and one of the largest in the world. The hotel was designed by architect William B. Tabler. When it opened in 1963 with 2153 rooms it was the largest hotel in the City (Hilton History and Wiki).

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The New York Hilton Midtown

The hotel has a lot to claim to fame. John Lennon wrote “Imagine” in the hotel, the first cell phone was used here in 1973 and President Trump recently gave his victory delivery speech in the hotel in 2016 (Wiki).

When walking back up north on Sixth Avenue at the corner of West 55th Street is artist John Rennert’s sculpture, “Listen” on the spot where the well-known “Love” sculpture used to be.

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Artist Jim Rennert’s “Listen”

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Artist Jim Rennert

http://www.jimrennert.com/

Mr. Rennert was born and raised in the Southwest in Las Vegas and Salt Lake City. A former businessman, Mr. Rennert later wanted to try his hand in being an artist and a sculptor in 1990 with much success. His works have been shown all over the world with his portrayals of the success and obstacles of the modern working man. His works are formed with a combination of bronze and flat laser steel. “Listen” is one of his public works (Artist Bio).

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“Listen” sits proudly at the corner of West 55th Street & Sixth Avenue

Rounding West 59th Street I continued down Seventh Avenue and was struck by the beauty of a building even under scaffolding. Alwyn Court is one of the most beautiful buildings in this part of Manhattan.

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Alwyn Court at 180 West 58th Street

The Alwyn Court at 180 West 58th Street was built at a time when the wealthy were abandoning the large mansions of Fifth and Madison Avenues and wanted luxury apartments instead (ie Income Tax has been introduced). The building was created between 1907-1909 and was designed by architects Harde & Short in the French Renaissance style with terra cotta ornamentation done in the Francis I style which gives it the unique look.

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Alwyn Court’s terra-cotta ornamentation on the doorway

The beauty is in the detail work of the building and it is going through a second cleaning and repair. It was designated a landmark in 1966 (Wiki).

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They don’t design buildings like Alwyn Court anymore

Further down  Seventh Avenue you come to one of the most famous buildings in the world, Carnegie Hall at 881 Seventh Avenue at the corner of West 57th Street.  One of the most recognized music venues in the world, this building was designed by architect William Burnet Tuthill and build by Andrew Carnegie, business owner and philanthropist in 1891. It was one of the last largest buildings in New York City build with masonry and no steel frame (Wiki).

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You can see by the last three years of Christmas blogs that I have written that I have visited Carnegie Hall many times for the holiday concerts. The joke “How do you get to Carnegie Hall? Practice, Practice, Practice” is so true. The best and most talented perform here.

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The Holiday Concert at Carnegie Hall last Christmas was amazing!

There are more interesting buildings further down Seventh Avenue that are going through a renovation. 850 Seventh Avenue is a elegant detailed eleven story building at the built in 1910 with its stone exterior and its Art Deco features. It is very impressive when you look from the other side of the Avenue.

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850 Seventh Avenue

One sad reminder of the changes in Manhattan comes with 854 Seventh Avenue, the former home of the Carnegie Deli which closed in 2016. This was one of the most famous and iconic eating places in New York City and was in more TV and movies that I can remember. The restaurant was opened by Leo Steiner and Milton Parker in 1937 and the most amazing food including over-sized pastrami sandwiches, Matzo Ball soup and cheesecakes. I had eaten there many times in both high school and college and then when I was working in the City. The building remains empty today as the new owners are waiting to demolish it and build a residential building there (Wiki).

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The famous Carnegie Deli in its heyday at 854 Seventh Avenue

Across the street from the former deli is 853 Seventh Avenue, “The Wyoming” apartment building. What stands out about this beautiful twelve story building built in 1906 is the elegant Beaux-Art style detail work around the windows and roof.

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853 Seventh Avenue at the corner of West 55th Street

Heading back up Seventh Avenue, don’t miss the famous Osborne Apartments at 205 West 57th Street which faces Seventh Avenue. This elegant apartment house was built and designed by James Edward Ware between 1883 and 1885 in the American Renaissance style with masonry bearing walls and the building itself looks like a giant brownstone.

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The Osborne is Victorian elegant at its best at 205 West 57th Street at the corner of Seventh Avenue

Home to the famous, residents have included Leonard Bernstein, the composer, Sylvia Miles, the actress and Ira Levin, the novelist.

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The splendor of The Osborne lobby can not be matched

It was just starting to get dark when I rounded West 59th Street one more time for the last Avenue to walk and Broadway is always interesting. Having walked this main artery during the summer months three times, I gained a respect for the complexity of the businesses and apartment buildings that line it from Inwood to the Bowling Green. This former Indian trail offers a lot of interesting things to see and do.

My first stop was a visit to the new Nordstrom department store at 235 West 57th Street in the heart of the business district. After years of working at Macy’s, I always remember my store manager saying that they never wanted to open in NYC because of the unions. They felt they could never give the service that they were known for by opening in Manhattan. What twenty-five years does to a City!

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Nordstrom Manhattan at 235 West 57th Street

I have to admit that the store is pretty and has beautiful merchandise but the staff was either so busy kidding around with each other or on their cell phones, they were not paying attention to the customers too much. The restaurant on the top floor was the busiest department I saw in the store and they seemed overwhelmed.

A couple of things I did notice when walking through the store was the staff was so young and not dressed in the traditional conservative Nordstrom way that I knew of the suburban stores. The dress code went out the window here. That and no one ever approached me no matter what department I entered. Big change from the 90’s store that I remember. The second thing I noticed was that no bags were leaving the store. I always remember my boss saying that was the sign that a store was doing well.

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Nordstrom Manhattan

Walking down Broadway in the later afternoon and evening, this part of  Broadway is full of large office buildings that are somewhat generic but here and there are still traces of old New York.

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The Dream Hotel Midtown encompasses old and new

At the corner of Broadway and West 55th Street is the Dream Midtown Hotel at 210 West 55th Street. What makes the hotel unique is that it is a renovated 1895 Beaux Arts building that also encompasses old brownstones on West 55th Street for a unique design. The hotel is basically a hip new hotel surrounded by New York elegance and the hotel has done a wonderful job restoring this old building.

My last stop up Broadway was at the Museum of Arts and Design at 2 Columbus Circle (see my reviews on TripAdvisor and VisitingaMuseum.com) which I had visited a few times over the summer to see the ‘Post Punk and New Wave Art’ exhibition. It is really different from the more traditional museums in the City.

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The Museum of Arts and Design at 2 Columbus Circle

The museum was founded in 1956 and has had a few name and location changes over the years settling in this building in 2008 with a total redesign of the building by architect Brad Cloepfil of Allied Works Architecture. The museum’s purpose direction is dedicated to creativity and craftsmanship of the artist along with their materials and techniques (Museum history).

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I thought the exhibition on the Post-Punk and New Wave era was really interesting as I remember the music from that era.

There had been some controversy when redesigning the building. It had been originally built in 1964 by A & P Heir Huntington Harford to house his collection of art as a museum. The original building before the renovation was designed by architect Edward Durell Stone and opened as the Gallery of Modern Art. According to what I read, the building was never endured by any of the architectural reviewers and only came into notice when the building was sold in 2002 (Wiki).

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The old 2 Columbus Circle “The Gallery of Modern Art” before the renovation

This museum and the Dream Hotel Midtown are examples of what is happening in Manhattan now. The reuse of buildings and the old mixing with the new as  businesses are being reworked into old establishments and that morphing Manhattan into its next stage of existence.

I walked around Columbus Circle as the lights were coming on and the temperatures were starting to cool. The holidays are around the corner and it looks like the City is gearing up for them.

Central Park was still busy and the carriage rides were in full swing that night. A lot has changed since the 80’s.

 

Places to Eat:

 

Hop Won Express Chinese Restaurant

139 East 45th Street

New York, NY 10017

(212) 661-4280/867-4996

https://hopwonrestaurant.netwaiter.com/

Open: Sunday Closed/Monday-Friday 8:00am-8:45pm/Saturday 11:00am-7:30pm

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d4760804-Reviews-Hop_Won_Restaurant-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

My review on DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/diningonashoestringinnyc.wordpress.com/1214

 

Places to Visit:

 

Museum of Arts and Design

Jerome and Simona Chazen Building

2 Columbus Circle Building

New York, NY 10019

https://madmuseum.org/

(212) 299-7777

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

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g60763-d524927-Reviews-Museum_of_Arts_and_Design-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

My review on VisitingaMuseum.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/visitingamuseum.com/2998

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day One Hundred and Forty-Eight: A Five Year Well Wishing to my father, Warren George Watrel October 13th, 2019

There are times when a well-wishing is for something wonderful and there are times where it is for something sad.

This well wishing on the five year anniversary of my father’s passing is a celebration of life and an honorum to the man who inspired this blog for his sense of adventure and a will to never give up the fight. This is where my father inspired me to succeed in all the things that I do and the goals I want to still accomplish in life.

I always quoted to my students from the song “Happy Talk” from the movie “South Pacific” when Bloody Mary sings “You got to have a dream, if you don’t have a dream, how you gonna have your dreams come true?” If we don’t have the goals, dreams and desires in life, how can we  inspire to them?

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My father defied odds and attended his 60th High School Reunion in 2013

This very special blog comes when I have visited more than half the Island of Manhattan and look forward to walking the rest. My hope to all you readers who follow and enjoy this blog of joining me on “MywalkinManhattan”, that you are inspired to follow the dreams and goals that you have in life as well.

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My dad with his granddaughter at the Reunion weekend in 2013

As I said on my first day of starting this project, walking the streets of Manhattan is not terribly original and three people I had read about had already finished walking or were in the process of finishing it when I started but I’d  like to think I am showing the Island of Manhattan in a new light.

From pointing out all the wonderful things to do, see and eat, from indulging in pastries in bakeries in Washington Heights to finding the most interesting street art in Spanish Harlem to seeing New York Harbor at night with the Statue of Library lit behind it to having you join me on all the walking tours I have been on in different parts of the City when things I had not noticed were pointed out to me that you are looking at New York City in a different light.

So to my father, whom I miss everyday, I love you and miss you!

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Dad and I at the ‘Grandparent’s Day Brunch’ fundraiser for the Junior Friends of the Hasbrouck Heights Library 2013.

 

‘Happy Talk’ from ‘South Pacific’

Day One Hundred and Forty-Three Walking the Borders of Midtown East Manhattan from Lexington Avenue to Fifth Avenue from East 59th Street to East 43rd Street August 9th, 2019

After my long walks around the classic New York neighborhoods of Sutton Place, Beekman Place and Turtle Bay, it was now time to turn my attention to the commercial part of Manhattan and the shopping districts that are popular with the tourists. This neighborhood is in a whirlwind of change right now as everything old is being knocked down and replaced with shiny new office towers and large glass boxes. Slowly the character of this part of Midtown is changing from the old stone buildings with the beautifully carved embellishments to a lot of glass towers lining both the Avenues and the Streets of the neighborhood. I have never seen so many changes over a twenty year period.

I have also seen the decline of the Fifth and Madison Avenue exclusivity in the shopping district from East 60th Street to East 43rd Street right near the New York Public Library. All the big department stores one by one have closed leaving only Saks Fifth Avenue and specialty store Bergdorf Goodman both Men’s and Women’s stores left. Even those stores have gone from elegant well-bred stores to somewhat showy and glitzy as I am not sure they know who their customer is anymore. There are a lot of empty storefronts because of the rising rents.

The selection of stores and restaurants lining this side of the neighborhood are still somewhat exclusive but it reminds me more of North Michigan Avenue in Chicago than Fifth Avenue in New York City. There seems to have been a dispersion of stores from the street over the last two years to areas like Madison Avenue or even SoHo or Tribeca downtown. There are a lot of empty store fronts both on Fifth and Madison Avenue which you never saw until the Stock Market Crash of 2008. The area has not fully recovered from that yet.

Still the borders of the neighborhood still hold some of the most iconic and famous buildings in Manhattan and interesting shops and restaurants along the way. Some of the most famous hotels in New York City are located in this neighborhood with their classic old world charm and their elegant stonework entrances.

I started my tour of the neighborhood by revisiting the length of Lexington Avenue from East 43rd Street and walking up the Avenue to East 59th Street and then crossing over East 59th to Fifth Avenue. First I stopped for some lunch at Hop Won Chinese Noodle Shop at 139 East 45th Street between Lexington and Third Avenues (See reviews on TripAdvisor and DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com).

Hop Won Chinese Noodle Shop is one of the few remaining restaurants in the former brownstone section of the neighborhood that has not been razed for an office building. The food is so good and different from the other Chinese take out places in Midtown. They specialize in roasted meats, noodle soups and dishes while keeping the traditional Cantonese favorite for the busy office workers in the area.

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Hop Won Chinese Noodle Shop at 139 East 45th Street

My first  and second trips to the restaurant I wanted to concentrate on the roasted meats. You could not taste a more moist or succulent meat outside of Chinatown. The Roast Pork, Roast Duck and Boneless Roast Pork with rice makes a nice lunch. The meats are perfectly marinated, lacquered and roasted to perfection with crackling skin and the taste of soy and honey. Their prices are very fair and the selection of combination dishes all run under $10.00.

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The delicious roasted meats at Hop Won

After lunch, I walked up the familiar Lexington Avenue to East 59th Street, passing well-known hotels and office buildings that still make up the character of the neighborhood. In between the ‘glass boxes’ there are still many buildings that standout and you can read about them more in my travels around Turtle Bay (Day One Hundred and Forty Walking Turtle Bay).

As I rounded along East 59th Street, I saw in the distance the now bankrupt Barney’s specialty store. Talk about a store that traveled in full circle from a discount store to exclusivity now into bankruptcy with the changing tastes and buying habits of customers all over the city. I’m surprised with the rent for this location they are bothering to keep it open.

Further down the street passing various stores and restaurants on the corner of Fifth Avenue and East 59th Street is the famous Sherry-Netherland Hotel at 781 Fifth Avenue. Built between 1926-27 by the architects Schultz-Weaver with Buckman and Kahn in the Neo-Romanesque/Neo-Gothic style and you can see the stone work details around the edges of the building.  It was once the tallest apartment hotel in New York City.

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Sherry-Netherland Hotel at 781 Fifth Avenue

When walking around the corner East 59th Street to Fifth Avenue, you will pass the General Motors Building at 767 Fifth Avenue.  This modern skyscraper was designed in the ‘International style’ by architects by Edward Durell Stone & Associates with Emory Roth & Sons in 1968 and is one of the few buildings that utilizes a full city block (Wiki). The building was used by General Motors as their New York headquarters until 1998 when they sold the remaining interest in the building.

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The GM Building at 767 Fifth Avenue

Next door to the GM Building is 745 Fifth Avenue, the home of Bergdorf-Goodman Men’s Store and once the home to FAO Schwarz Toy Store from 1932-1986. You can see this classic New York skyscraper in many TV shows and movies including the theme song for the opening of “That Girl” and in the FAO Schwarz scene of the movie “Baby Boom” with Diane Keaton. This beautiful ‘art-deco style’ building was designed by architects Buckman-Kahn in 1930.

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745 Fifth Avenue

745 Fifth Avenue on TV in the opening of “That Girl” with the Bergdorf-Goodman store window on the corner of 5th Avenue and 59th Street where she is looking into.

 

 

 

The architecture continues to evolve on Fifth Avenue as you continue to make your way down the street.

Watch the traffic and security as you pass Trump Tower at 721 Fifth Avenue. I could write an entire book on the building of this famous and iconic structure of the 1980’s. The building was designed by architect Dur Scutt of Poor, Swanke, Hayden & Connell. It is tough to visit the building with all the security but still it is interesting to see the shops and inside design.

Trump Tower

Trump Tower at 721 Fifth Avenue

There is a combination of building designs and structure along the way. Located on the corner of Fifth Avenue and 55th Street is one of the most famous hotels in New York City, The St. Regis Hotel. This luxury hotel on the corner of 55th Street between Fifth and Madison Avenue’s at 2 East 55th Street was built in 1904 by John Jacob Astor IV.

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St. Regis Hotel at 2 East 55th Street

The hotel was designed by architects Trowbridge & Livingston in the French Beaux-Art style and was the tallest hotel in New York when it was built. Take time to go inside and see the true beauty of this hotel which was fully renovated in 2013. There are interesting restaurants to eat at and they have a wonderful (but very pricey) Afternoon Tea. The hotel which is a Five Star and Five Diamond hotel has been featured on countless TV shows and movies.

St. Regis Hotel

The Front entrance of the St. Regis Hotel off Fifth Avenue

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).

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Cartier Fifth Avenue 653 Fifth Avenue

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.

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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.

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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.

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647 Fifth Avenue 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 Discesce 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.

St. Patrick's Cathedral

St. Patrick’s Cathedral on 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 Gimbel’s 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.

 

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Saks Fifth Avenue at 611 Fifth Avenue

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 house 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 & Nobel 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 book shelves inside the store.

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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.

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The Fred French Building at 551 Fifth Avenue

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).

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The detail work on the top of the Fred French Building

When you cross over to West 43rd Street, you will see the elegant Grand Central Station complex which covers from West 42nd to West 45th Streets with the train station facing the West 42nd Street entrance to the MetLife Building (forever known at the Pan-Am Building for those of us to remember it) toward the back. It hovers over Grand Central like a modern gleaming giant. It should never been built there but that was the modern way of doing things in the 1960’s.

One of the best movie scenes of Fifth Avenue & the Pan-Am Building from “On a Clear Day you can see Forever”

 

Grand Central Station, once the home of the New York Railroad is one of the famous buildings in New York City. Saved from demolition in the 1960’s by Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and other concerned preservationists.

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Grand Central Terminal dominates this part of the neighborhood at 89 East 42nd Street

Grand Central Terminal was built between 1903-13 and opened in 1913. This beautiful rail station was designed New York Central Vice-President William J. Wilgus and the interiors and some exteriors by architects Reed & Stem and Warren & Wetmore in the Beaux Arts design. The exterior facade of building including the famous  “Glory of Commerce” were designed by French artists and architects Jules Felix Coutan, Sylvain Salieres and Paul Cesar Helleu (Wiki).

Jules Coutan

Jules Felix Coutan artist

https://www.artsy.net/artist/jules-felix-coutan

Grand Central Terminal

There is a true beauty to the statuary and stone carvings on the outside of the building.

 

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‘The Glory of Commerce’

The terminal housed the New York Central Railroad and some of the busiest routes. It now houses the New Haven, White Plains and Poughkeepsie lines and stop overs for some Amtrak lines. In 2020, it was house the new lines of the Long Island Rail Road.

The interior of the building is just as spectacular. When you walk into the building and stare from the top of the stairs, you see the power and bustle of New York City. When you look up you will see the famous ‘Constellation’ ceiling cleaned and lit with all the stars in the sky. There is still a small portion of the ceiling that was not cleaned to show how dirty it once was before the renovation.

Take time in the building to walk around and look up and down. This is an amazing building that takes time to look around. I will admit that security is tight around the building so don’t be to obvious as a tourist. Take the escalator to the bottom level to the Food Court. If you can’t find it down here, you won’t find it. Every restaurant is represented down here and there are public bathrooms as well.

After touring Grand Central station, I walked back down West 43rd Street to Fifth Avenue. Outside the Emigrant Bank is the statue of ‘Kneeling Fireman’ which was once placed by Times Square when it first arrived in this country from Parma, Italy. The statue arrived in this country on September 9, 2001 on its way to Missouri as it had been commissioned for the Firefighters Association of Missouri (Wiki).

After the attacks on 9/11, the statue was presented to the Federal Law Enforcement Foundation as a gift to the City. With funding from the Millstein family, the statue was mounted and placed in front of their hotel, The Milford Plaza which is in the Times Square area. It was a placed of remembrance for people to gather after the attacks (Ciston 2011).

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The Kneeling Fireman outside 6 East 43rd Street

The Statue is now placed in front of the Emigrant Savings Bank headquarters at 6 East 43rd Street and funding from the Millstein family provided a permanent home for the statue. People still come to visit the statue (which had been in storage for a decade until 2011) but its meaning seems different now with so many years passing. Still it is an important part of the City’s history at a time when it brought everyone together.

Across the street from the statue, I noticed an unusual building that was part marble and part modern. This is the Fifth Church of Christ Scientist. The building was built in 1921 for the Church in the Classic Revival style and as part of the agreement there is a 21 story glass tower on top of it (Wiki). It really does stand out for its unique design. Still it does not look that big from the outside but the building does seat 1800.

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 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.

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).

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Rockefeller Center and the famous tree today

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).

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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.

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Artist Paul Manship

https://www.britannica.com/biography/Paul-Manship

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 architure of the Center and depicts Atlas carrying the celestial vault on his shoulders.

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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.

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Artist Lee Lawrie

Home: Lee Lawrie–Forgotten American Art Deco Architectural Sculptor

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. Also visit the underground walkways of shops and restaurants and visit the new FAO Schwarz that opened in the center.

Leaving Rockefeller Center and heading up Fifth Avenue you will pass the rest of the complex that was designed in a combination of the International and Art Deco design. 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).

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Saint Thomas Church at 1 West 53rd Street

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.

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.

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The University Club of New York at 1 West 54th Street

Next door to the club is the New York branch of the Peninsula Hotel located at 700 Fifth Avenue at West 55th Street. The hotel opened in 1905 as the Gotham Hotel designed in the neoclassical style. The hotel lived in the shadow of the St. Regis across the street and the Plaza Hotel up the road and went bankrupt in 1908. The hotel had many incarnations over the next eighty yeas until 1988 when it was bought by the Peninsula Group. They spent forty five million dollars in a renovation (Wiki).

Take time to go inside and see the elegant public rooms and take a walk down the hallway to see the inside of the hotel. During the holidays it is beautifully decorated adn their restaurants are considered excellent.

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The Peninsula Hotel New York at 700 Fifth Avenue

Across the street from the Peninsula Hotel is the Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church at 7 West 55th Street. The church was founded in 1808 and has been on this spot since 1875. The church was designed by architect Carl Pfeiffer in the Victorian Gothic style. The church is built with New Jersey Red Sandstone and the interesting part of the structure is that the clock tower has the original clockworks since 1875 and must be wound each week by hand (Wiki).

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Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church at 7 West 55th Street

On an Avenue of churches and department stores, another office building does stand out so you really have to look up and admire the detail work of the Crown Building at 730 Fifth Avenue one of the buildings that was gilded and gold leafed in the 1980’s.

The Crown Building was built in 1921 and was designed by architects from Warren & Wetmore who you will note had designed Grand Central Terminal and the Helmsley Building on Park Avenue. They changed the name to the Crown Building in 1983 because of the ‘crown like look’ when illuminated at night. The building has been owned by many well known families including the Marcos Family from the Philippines and the Spitzers of New York (Elliot Spitzer was New York’s former Governor). It has been many ownerships over the years and their are considerations by the new owner to turn it into condos (Wiki).

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The Crown Building at 730 Fifth Avenue

The last building I visited on my walk up Fifth Avenue was my old employer, Bergdorf-Goodman Specialty store. This is truly the palace of luxury and innovation in fashion. There are designers here that keep popping up that I have never heard of all displayed in elegant fashion where the store looks more like a art gallery of fashion than just a store.

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The Cornelius Vanderbilt II house on the site before Bergdorf-Goodman

Bergdorf-Goodman was once the location of the Cornelius Vanderbilt mansion (which was torn down in 1926) and was opened in this location in 1928. The store was founded by Herman Bergdorf and was later owned by Edwin Goodman. The store is designed in the Beaux-Arts style and the inside of the store just went through a multi-million dollar renovation.

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Bergdorf-Goodman at 745 Fifth Avenue

Bergdorf-Goodman is a lot of fun to walk around. My favorite floors are the first floor where Jewelry and Accessories is located. The displays of merchandise look like a museum and the Seventh Floor is stocked with interesting home furnishings, creative dishware and very pretty restaurant that overlooks Fifth Avenue and the park below. Pack your credit cards because you will find something you like here. Visit the store at Christmas for the creative window displays, the well-stocked Holiday Department or just go for Afternoon Tea in the restaurant. Its fun to window shop here.

The last place I visited was Pulitzer Plaza to sit down and relax from all of the walking and see the Pulitzer Fountain.

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Pulitzer Plaza and Fountain at 1 Pulitzer Plaza

This busy little park is a refuge for people shopping on Fifth Avenue, tourists wanting to take pictures of the Plaza Hotel and the pigeons so watch out. The park is of the Grand Army Plaza that extends to the other side West 59th Street.

The fountain was designed by sculptor Karl Bitter and the park by architect Thomas Hastings of the firm Carrere & Hastings. The statue is of the Pomona, the Goddess of Abundance who is holding a basket of fruit.

Karl Bitter artist

Artist Karl Bitter

https://americanart.si.edu/artist/karl-bitter-432

When Mr. Bitter died in a car accident, the statue was finished by his assistant, Karl Gruppe with the help of Isidore Konti. The fountain was dedicated in 1916 (Wiki).

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The Goddess Pomona statue by artist Karl Bitter

While sitting in the park watching the tourists walk by muttering things about the “Home Alone” film that had been shot at the Plaza Hotel, it really struck me about the treasure trove of architectural styles, immense detail work on the buildings and the interesting statuary that lines this part of East Midtown. It is its own open air museum if you really take the time to look up and around and admire the true beauty of the neighborhood. Some of the most famous buildings in Manhattan are located right here.

I ended my walk back at the corner of Lexington and East 59th Street, revisiting the Turtle Bay neighborhood that I walked a few months earlier. As much as this neighborhood is changing, there still is enough of the past to admire. Look to see how the future intertwines with the past in Mid-Town East.

 

Places to Visit:

There are so many wonderful and beautiful buildings to see in this neighborhood that I mentioned their addresses in the main part of the walk rather one by one. Please walk both sides of Fifth Avenue and look across the street to admire the true beauty of these magnificent buildings.

 

Places to Eat:

Hop Won Chinese Restaurant

139 East 45th Street (between Lexington & Third Avenue)

New York, NY

Phone: (212) 661-4280/(212) 867-4996

Fax: (212) 867-0208

Open: Sunday Closed/Monday-Friday 10:00am-8:45pm/Saturday 11:00am-7:30pm

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d4760804-Reviews-Hop_Won_Restaurant-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

My review on DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/diningonashoestringinnyc.wordpress.com/1214

Day One Hundred and Seven: The Creation of the extension of my blog, “MywalkinManhattan.com” with my newest blog, “LittleShoponMainStreet @WordPress. com. March 28th, 2019

As I have been walking all over the Upper East & West Sides of Manhattan plus in all the up and coming neighborhoods all over the City and out in the suburbs, I am discovering so many trendy and unique little stores, whose merchants are proving that you don’t have to flock to Amazon to find the latest fashion forward and eclectic merchandise. These tiny stores all over the metropolitan area are bucking the trend of online shopping and proving that the original ‘store keeper’ is a thing of the present.

La Librarie des Enfants

La Librairie des Enfants at 163 East 92nd Street

I was inspired by stores such as Tiny Doll House (314 East 78th Street) and La Librairie des Enfants (163 East 92nd Street) on the Upper East Side and John Koch Antiques (201 West 84th Street) on the Upper West Side of Manhattan with their unique and inspiring merchandise that screams “buy me” when you walk in the door.

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Tiny Doll House at 314 East 78th Street

Even in my own town of Hasbrouck Heights, NJ, I visit Young Fashions (208 Boulevard) and The Religious Shoppe (220 Boulevard) for merchandise that you will no longer find in the department stores. These establishments stand out for their personalized service where you will work with the owners to merchandise you will find for that extra special gift.

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Young’s Fashion at 208 Boulevard in Hasbrouck Heights NJ

Even some of the food stores and gourmet shops (that don’t fit into my DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com site) I have come across show that restaurants and gourmet food can display their goods in a beautiful way and still taste good but not be expensive such as Harbs on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. These stores get a local gathering of residents and tourists lucky enough to find them.

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Harbs at 1374 Third Avenue on the Upper East Side of Manhattan

So as I do “MywalkinManhattan.com”, let’s go shopping on “LittleShoponMainStreet@Wordpress.com” and eat something along the way as I guide you past the department stores and the expensive boutiques to show how Merchandising Management is not dead and how the experience of personal service and friendly shop owners is alive and well in all parts of New York City and beyond.

Happy Shopping!

*Author’s Note: “LittleShoponMainStreet@Wordpress.com is an extension of my site, “MywalkinManhattan.com” along with “VisitingaMuseum.com” and “DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com”  to complete your touring experience around the Metropolitan area and beyond.

Day One Hundred and Two: Walking the Avenues of the Upper East Side from East 84th to 72nd Streets between Fifth Avenue and FDR Drive February 14th-20th, 2018

I took some time out after Soup Kitchen to get some exercise and start my walk of the Avenues of the Upper East Side. I spent the whole morning making lasagnas for lunch the next day and I was tired as it was that afternoon. I ended up walking from 9th Avenue and 28th Street to Fifth Avenue and 52nd Street to pick up movie tickets at the MoMA for that afternoon and then walked to Fifth Avenue and East 72nd Street and walked down to East 72nd Street to re-walk York Avenue from East 72nd Street to East 84th Street and then walk the remaining Avenues. It was turning to twilight when I last walked it and I wanted to see it again. The neighborhood like the rest of Manhattan is changing.

You really are seeing an area in its own transition especially along the Avenues. The side streets have kept their character to a certain point but on the Avenues the old brick buildings and brownstones are giving way to large apartment buildings like its neighbor to the north in the Yorkville, Carnegie Hill and even East Harlem. More and more of the main thoroughfares are becoming large residential buildings.

I started the day first having lunch a small pizzeria called La Crosta Restaurant and Gourmet Pizzeria at 436 East 72nd Street (See review on TripAdvisor) for a slice of pizza ($4.00). I needed my carbs for the walk ahead of me. This small pizzeria has a really nice menu with very fair prices. The pizza is really good and they have a good sauce on the pizza which really makes the pie.

La Crosta Pizzeria

La Crosta Restaurant and Gourmet Pizza at 436 East 72nd Street

I would revisit the restaurant again later the next week to try their meatball sub with mozzarella ($7.95) to see if it would make the cut for my blog, DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com (which it has see the review on the site) and was impressed by the sandwich. They loaded the sandwich with homemade meatballs and then loaded with shredded with cheese and finished off in the oven. It was some sandwich.

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The lunch specials at La Crosta Pizza are excellent

After lunch, I walked the length of York Avenue. I had really misjudged this part of the neighborhood when really looking at it. When walking York Avenue I started to notice a difference in the architecture once you hit about East 80th Street. The lower part of the avenue is being knocked down and rebuilt while up in the 80’s, you still have a fair amount of small buildings and businesses.

When I crossed over to John Jay Park again for a bathroom break (note this bathroom when walking around the neighborhood. They keep it really clean). I wanted to take another look at the Douglas Abdell statues in the park. They are off to the side of the park in the pathway leading to East 75th Street from Cherokee Place.

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Eaphae-Aekyard #2 by artist Douglas Abdell

Really take time to look at the two sculptures. There is a uniqueness to them. It like the way the artist twisted the work to get the geometric forms that he did giving it a juxtaposed pattern.

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Kreyeti-Ackyard #2 by artist Douglas Abdell

Douglas Abdell is an American Artist whose work has been seen all over the world. The two statues, Eaphae-Aekyard #2 and Kreyeti-Ackyard #2 use the artists sense of vertical, diagonal and horizontal patterns to create the works (NY Parks System). You really have to take time when in the park to take a look at these two statues and judge for yourself.

Douglas Abdell artist

Douglas Abdell the artist

http://www.artnet.com/artists/douglas-abdell/

First Avenue has a bevy of interesting local restaurants and stores that are concentrated up in the 80’s and while walking up to the upper 80’s, I had to stop by my standby place, Glaser’s Bake Shop at 1670 First Avenue for dessert. You can’t walk around the Upper East Side without coming to Glaser’s (now closed). I love this place!

Glazer's Bake Shop

The now closed Glaser’s Bake Shop at 1670 First Avenue (now closed)

I got one of there freshly baked chocolate chip cookie sandwiches, which was filled with a mocha cream ($3.50) that was out of this world! I think I have been concentrating on this part of town just so that I can visit here. Everything always looks so good.

It was so sad when they closed

Second Avenue is very similar in feel to First Avenue. In the 70’s, there is a lot of change in the businesses to more commercial establishments with the 80’s still being dominated by more local restaurants and shops. The buildings above East 80th Street are still the smaller brick and brownstone buildings holding the local businesses.  All throughout the Avenue there are pockets of local stores and restaurants.

Park Avenue between East 72nd and 84th Streets still is an Avenue of quiet elegance with beautiful older apartment buildings and co-ops that line the beautifully decorated gardens that line the median and the fronts of several buildings. There is very little commercial businesses on the street less a flower shop here and a dry cleaner there type of thing. It is a block after block of pre-war buildings that have not changed much except for sandblasting clean the exterior of the outside. In the Spring, Summer and the holiday season, the median is nicely landscaped and decorated.

Madison Avenue is mainly a upscale shopping district that is getting too expensive for its own good. In the lower 70’s, I saw a lot of empty spaces cramped in between the over-priced clothing and jewelry stores. I think the rents are pushing out the first wave of shops that moved here after Fifth Avenue got too expensive. Even the rents here are getting to be too much. I am beginning to see these upscale shops moving to Lexington and even Third Avenues in the 70’s. This is pushing out the mom & pop places that dominate those Avenues. It still is one of the premier shopping districts in Upper Manhattan where many European merchants open.

The stores that are located on the Avenue you still have to be buzzed into and is lined with expensive clothing, jewelry, art and decorative stores with a few boutique hotels and restaurants. In the past few months that I have been walking the neighborhood, I have seen some of them move off and to other locations in the surrounding streets. As the twenty year rents are up, many of the traditional businesses from the 1970’s, 80’s and even the 90’s are giving way to chains or just empty store fronts.

Fifth Avenue is always a treat. Most of the buildings in the area have not changed and stayed mostly residential. It is lined with elegant marble apartment buildings and some modern day structures. The park is still quiet with the last days of winter slowly becoming behind us. Still on a semi-warm day, there are still kids playing in the playgrounds. I swear, nothing stops these kids. It still is part of the “Museum Mile” and there are smaller gallery spaces and museums.

On my second day walking the Avenues, I doubled back to FDR Drive to walk along the riverfront. This is a juxtaposed position. There is no one clear walking path on FDR Drive. The cross over pedestrian bridge is at East 78th Street by John Jay Park and you can cross over to walk along the East River. It was 72 degrees the second day on the walk and it just gorgeous outside. Everyone had the same idea that I had and I saw many people walking their dogs or jogging along the water.  The walkway is currently being renovated so it stops around 71st Street.

I doubled back to John Jay Park and walked the remainder of FDR Drive by sidewalk around East 79th Street, with many cars driving by at full speed. The sidewalk ends at 72nd Street at the Con Ed building and I don’t suggest walking any further. There is a slim strip of edge of sidewalk and unless you want to be hit by a car, walk back down East 72nd Street. It is full of guys coming and going for work so it is very busy on this street during the day.

I went back to East 78th Street and went back on the bridge and proceeded to walk up the walkway to East 84th Street to Carl Schurz Park. School had let out by this point and both this park and John Jay Park were loaded with kids for the rest of the afternoon. All of them obviously enjoying the surprisingly warm weather. When walking across East 84th Street, the southern part of the park, I came across a plaque dedicated to Archibald Gracie, whose estate used to be located here and whose family Gracie Mansion is named after (the Mayor’s residence).

Gracie mansion

Gracie Mansion, the home of the Mayor of New York City

Gracie, who was a merchant and shipbuilder and good friend of John Jay and Alexander Hamilton, had bought the land around what was called “Horn’s Hook” in 1798 and built the wooden home as a county estate. The house had been headquarters for many prominent residents of the city as Gracie’s position changed to include insurance and banking. He had to sell the house in 1823 to pay off debts and it was acquired by the city in 1891. After different uses, it was renovated and now serves as the residence of NYC Mayor and his family.

Archiebald Gracie

Archibald Gracie, the builder of Gracie Mansion

I walked down East End Avenue and walked all the side streets between East 84th to East 79th Streets where East End Avenue ends. Most the streets have a dead end with a beautiful view of the river the most scenic at East 72nd Street, where you can sit on the benches and just watch the river. Here starts the Weill-Cornell Medical Center so you will be sharing space with many of the hospital workers out on a break.  It also offers views of Roosevelt Island (see Day Ninety Five “Walking Roosevelt Island”) especially Lighthouse Park.

Roosevelt Island

Roosevelt Island is wonderful to explore on a warm sunny day

Lighthouse Park

Lighthouse Park at the tip of Roosevelt Island

As you walk past buildings along the river, you will see the old sign for the “East Side House Settlement” at East 76th Street, which used to be the home for the establishment which is one of the oldest non-profit social service organizations in New York City. It was founded here in 1891 and moved to the South Bronx in 1962. The building still stands now part of the Town School but the sign still stands as a testament to where it was founded. You can see the sign carved in the stone from the FDR Walkway.

Walking York Avenue, you will pass the same type of construction along the Avenue as the smaller brownstone buildings give way to the larger apartment complexes.  There is a little gem off York Avenue at 502 East 74th Street. This small carriage house seems out of place in the neighborhood but has been around since the Civil War. It had been converted to manufacturing in 1892 and most of its existence had been a place of manufacturing. It now has been restored and is now a private residence.

Another building that is interesting is at 450 East 78th Street, a small wooden structure that houses an antique and a blinds store’s that was built in 1910. This small building is relic of a time when this area must have been filled with homes like this. Martine’s Antiques located in one of the stores is a treasure trove of small items and is worth the trip inside. It really stands alone in a neighborhood in constant change.

Martine's Antiques

Martine’s Antiques at 450 East 78th Street

I followed York Avenue up to 84th Street and crossed down to Third Avenue. Third and Lexington Avenues are very similar in look and in businesses. Third Avenue and Lexington Avenue in the 70’s are really going through a transition as rents are forcing older businesses out. That classic 90’s look of the Avenues is giving way to either empty store fronts or upscale restaurants and shops that should be on Madison Avenue.

Still there are a lot of those businesses hanging that still give it the neighborhood feel and that is more in the low 80’s. One of those businesses is the Lexington Candy Shop at 1226 Lexington Avenue, where I had lunch (See review on TripAdvisor). Founded in 1925, it is a reminder when these type of stores used to dominate New York City until the arrival of McDonald’s in the 1970’s. Even the automate’s gave way by the early 80’s.

Lexington Candy Shop

Lexington Candy Shop at 1226 Lexington Avenue

https://www.lexingtoncandyshop.com/

I had eaten here several times before and I wanted to know if it was still as good as it once was then. Trust me it is still great and it is a real New York experience to sit at the counter.  I ordered a regular burger and a strawberry milkshake, both of which were excellent.

Lexington Candy Shop II

The inside of the Lexington Candy Shop is very unique and old fashioned

The burger was perfectly cooked with fresh lettuce and tomato on the side and the milkshake was made with Basset’s of Philadelphia ice cream, which I have mentioned in my blogs to Philly and is one of the best ice creams on the market. Both the food and service make Lexington Candy Shop a ‘must see’ for out of towners.

Third Avenue especially in the low 80’s still holds onto it classic New York look but I am afraid not for long. It looks like the whole Avenue is giving way to larger apartment complexes and office buildings. Even the traditional shopping district on 86th Street is giving way to all new buildings. Once the home of Gimbel’s Uptown, the neighborhood is slowly going upscale with a new Shake Shack and Brooks Brothers.

Still there are many unique stores in the area. Flying Tiger Copenhagen recently opened at 1286 Third Avenue, which has great novelty items for kids and seasonable gift items. The sad part is that everything seems to be made in China, not Copenhagen. If you like unusual novelty items, this is the place.

Another great store for kids and one of the oldest toy stores in the city is Mary Arnold Toys at 1178 Lexington Avenue. They have a nice selection of commercial toys and novelties. Most of the items you can find cheaper in other stores though but still it is a great store to look around.

Mary Arnold Toys

Mary Arnold Toys at 1178 Lexington Avenue

For many, the Upper East Side still has the feel that it has always had since the 1960’s and admittingly not much has changed in some parts of the neighborhood particularly around the side streets but massive changes on the Avenues are happening as rows of brownstones and small buildings give way to large apartment and building complexes and along the East River, there is a lot of construction along FDR Drive. Pretty soon that will all be luxury buildings as well.

The Upper East Side can be accessed by Subway on the number 6 or the G line. Go to the G line to see all the artwork.

 

Places to Eat:

 

La Crosta Restaurant and Gourmet Pizzeria

436 East 72nd Street

New York, NY  10021

(212) 472-5004

http://www.lacrostadanyc.com

My review on TripAdvisor:

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

My review on DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com:

https://diningonashoestringinnyc.wordpress.com/2018/02/24/la-crosta-restaurant-gourmet-pizzeria-436-east-72nd-street-new-york-ny-10021/

 

Lexington Avenue Candy Shop

1226 Lexington Avenue

New York, NY  10028

(212) 288-0057

https://www.lexingtoncandyshop.com/

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

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d522599-Reviews-Lexington_Candy_Shop-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

 

Glaser’s Bake Shop (Now Closed)

1670 First Avenue

New York, NY  10028

(212) 289-2562

http://www.glaserbakeshop.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://diningonashoestringinnyc.wordpress.com/2017/10/07/glasers-bake-shop-1670-first-avenue-new-york-ny-10128/

 

Places to Visit:

 

Flying Tiger Copenhagen

1282 Third Avenue

New York, NY  10001

(917) 388-2812

http://www.flyingtiger.com

Open: Sunday 11:00am-6:00pm/Monday-Saturday 10:00am-8:00pm

 

Mary Arnold Toys

1178 Lexington Avenue

New York, NY 10028

(212) 744-8510

http://www.MaryArnoldToys.com

Sunday 10:00am-5:00pm/Monday-Fridat 10:00am-6:00pm/Saturday 10:00am-6:00pm

 

Martine’s Antique Store

450 East 78th Street

New York, NY  10075

(212) 772-0900

Open: Sunday Closed/Monday-Friday 1:00pm-7:00pm/Saturday 1:00pm-6:00pm

 

Places to see:

 

John Jay Park

FDR Drive

Between East 78th and 75th Streets

New York, NY  10021

(212) 794-6566

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

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

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

 

Artist Douglas Abdell Statues

The Abdell statues are located just outside the park by East 76th Street.

https://www.askart.com/artist/Douglas_Abdell/103789/Douglas_Abdell.aspx

https://www.nycgovparks.org/parks/john-jay-park-and-pool/monuments/1768

Day Sixty-Eight: Walking SoHA (South Harlem from 110th to 125th Streets from Frederick Douglas Boulevard to Park Avenue February 22nd-April 3rd, 2017

 

The realtors have changed the borders many times to extend  neighborhoods from their traditional borders to include areas that have improved and been renovated to add to the value of the neighborhood. This is what I have seen in SoHA (South Harlem). Morningside Heights has creeped across the border, leap-frogging over Morningside Park to include a new ‘Restaurant Row’ on Frederick Douglas Boulevard making it the new eastern border of Morningside Heights.

What the borders might be now, I really could not say but I can see how the area has changed in the last twenty years. When I visited the Columbia campus in the early 90’s, I remember overhearing some of the students talking about all the fires that they saw the night before in the area on the other side of Morningside Park and how metal gates used to be in front of the steps leading to the park. Oh how times have changed in this area.

I started my walk during the winter break from school and the weather was in the high 60’s and low 70’s the whole week and it seemed that everyone had a case of cabin fever. People were all out and about this whole week. I started my walk that Wednesday morning and the weather had to be about 68 degrees and it was just beautiful out. It had started out a little cloudy then just cleared giving me perfect weather to walk around. My first part of the trip to me to the border of ‘SoHA’, South of Harlem 125th Street.

125th Street, which is the main artery of Harlem, is still being developed. All over the place things are under scaffolding or being knocked down and rebuilt all over the street. It is amazing the changes that have taken place so quickly since the summer. Since the summer, many of the side streets are under scaffolding as brownstones have been bought and even ones that have been bricked up for years have been sold and are being gutted.

My first part of the day was exploring Morningside Park by walking down Morningside Avenue and walking through the park area in the late morning. Most of the buildings facing the park have been renovated and sandblasted back into beauty and I am sure have gone up in value in the last 15 years. New playgrounds and spring plantings and clean up were happening all over the park as the park service had their crews were working all day to clean up the park for spring. The warm weather had plants popping up all over the park about a month early as I could see daffodils ready to bloom.

Morningside Park

Morningside Park has come back to life with the renovation

The park was full of mothers with strollers and kids playing baseball and soccer. The schools were out for the winter break and these kids really lucked out with the beautiful weather. It was more like late spring instead of the middle of the winter with warm temperatures and lots of sunshine. Everyone was taking advantage of the warm weather.

I was impressed by how nice the park looked with its new landscaping, well-tended paths and new playgrounds. It was a far cry from the drug dens that my father described when he was attending Columbia. The police would not even let him cross the park when he took the wrong subway and wanted to walk across the park to get to class. They made him go back downtown and take the 1 subway uptown.

Morningside Park II

Morningside Park by Columbia University

I  was fascinated by a statue of George Washington and General Lafayette that stood at the corner of 114th Street and Morningside Avenue. This impressive statue sits in a small triangle park across the street from Morningside Park and is surrounding by Victorian looking apartment buildings. The whole block surrounding the park has been sandblasted and renovated back to its original elegance. It is an impressive block of brownstones and prewar apartment buildings that surround this pocket park.

Lafayette and Washington

“Washington Greeting Lafayette’ by Morningside Park

The Statue of George Washington and Marquis de Lafayette was designed by Frederic Auguste Bartholdi, who had designed the Statue of Liberty. This copy of the statue was donated to the City of New York by Charles B. Rouss, who was a merchant in New York City at the time (Walk About New York).

Frederic Auguste Bartholdi was born in Colmar, France in 1834 and had attended  the Lycee Louis de Grand in Paris and then went off to study architecture and painting. In 1871 on his first visit to the United States he suggested the idea of a massive gift from France to the United States for the Centennial Celebrations which resulted in the “Statue of Liberty (Wiki).

Frederic Auguste Bartholdi

Fredrick Auguste Bartholdi

Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi (1834-1904)

As I exited the park, I can see all the new construction that is taking place on 110th Street which now looks like the Upper East Side. Pretty much everything from Riverside Drive to Adam Clayton Powell Boulevard has been renovated or rebuilt and has become an extension of Columbia University. The whole area was loaded with students going to classes or just trying to escape their classes by sitting in both Morningside and Central Parks. Several of the apartment buildings along 110th Street look straight off Park Avenue downtown with their elegant facades and their doormen.

The first day I walked this part of the neighborhood, I walked the Avenues and was able to walk Manhattan Avenue, Fredrick Douglas Boulevard, Nicholas Avenue (which crosses these Avenues)  and Adam Clayton Powell Boulevard. It is amazing how the neighborhood changes from block to block.

Morningside Avenue and Manhattan Avenue are lined with elegant brownstones and prewar apartments that are beginning to see signs of college students moving in. I saw students milling around the area all day long. These and Fredrick Douglas Boulevard (which in the not so distant future will probably be renamed Central Park North) have extended Morningside Heights further west. These three blocks east of the park are starting to cater to Columbia students and faculty.

Fredrick Douglas Boulevard has become ‘Restaurant Row’ to the college students and hipsters living in the area. I had never seen so many new restaurants on a fifteen block stretch and the funny part was you know that they are not catering to the local crowds as the cheapest entrée on most of the menus was between $15.00 to $20.00. All of these places were ridiculously expensive for this part of the city and the menus were very similar. On such a warm day though, the outdoor cafes were in full swing and the street was loaded with people either walking their dogs, catching up with friends or eating outside. I have to tell you this though, the white population in this section of SoHA is growing fast and they are young.

After covering these streets from 110th to 125th and back, I took a break and relaxed at the Harlem Meer (Dutch for Lake) located in Central Park North at 110th Street. On a beautiful sunny day, there is no better place to relax than on the benches facing the meer. People were outside fishing with their children and seniors were relaxing with their fishing poles bobbing by the side of the meer and gossiping about their neighbors. Behind them, loads of small children and their parents were running around the playground.

Harlem Meer

The Charles A. Dana Discovery Center and the Harlem Meer in the Summer months

I took some time out from my sunning and walked around the Charles A. Dana Discovery Center, where the bathrooms (note these are open late), visitors center and the history the park played in the Revolutionary War are located here. You can also arrange walking tours or become a member of the Central Park Conservatory ( I know because I did). I took some time out and looked over the history of the park. It is a very interesting timeline of the park during both the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812. Take a half hour out and look over the display.

Charles A. Dana Discovery Center II

Inside the Charles A. Dana Discovery Center

I walked up and down the every changing Nicholas Avenue that cuts across the neighborhood from Fredrick Douglas Boulevard across 7th Avenue to exit at Lenox Avenue. This ever changing street has loads of new restaurants and businesses on it. It starts off a small triangle a block below 125th Street that has a theater and a slew of new restaurants. You can see how the blocks keep changing with a lot of the buildings under scaffolding and for rent signs. There was an impressive memorial tribute to Harriet Tubman at 122nd Street and St. Nicholas Avenue with a beautiful statue located on a triangle over looking the road crossing.

Harriet Tubman Statue

The Harriet Tubman Statue at St. Nicholas Avenue and Fredrick Douglass Boulevard by Artist Alison Saar.

Ms. Saar is a Sculptor and Installation artist from California, who graduated from Scripps College with a BFA and another degree in MFA from Otis College of Art & Design.

Alison Saar artist

Artist Alison Saar

http://www.lalouver.com/saar/

I was able to cover a small section of Lenox Avenue the first day in the neighborhood and between 112th to 115th Streets stretching from Lenox Avenue to 5th Avenue the area is dominated by the Martin Luther King Jr. Houses and then from 5th Avenue to Park Avenue by the Taft Houses.

Martin Luther King Houses

Martin Luther King Houses

It looks like the city just bulldozed down an entire part of the neighborhood to build this hideous public housing. No wonder Jane Jacob said in “The Death and Life of American Cities” that public housing was the failure of a neighborhood and how it disengages itself from the rest of the neighborhood. There was a lot of renovation of the houses and parks in both areas but it looked out of place with the blocks of prewar buildings and brownstones (Who knew that living in the projects was so trendy?).

Taft Houses

Taft Houses

It was getting dark on my first day in the this part of the neighborhood but with so many people outside, I never felt unsafe even walking through the projects. I double backed down part of Lenox Avenue and discovered at the corner between 109th and 110th Streets in a series of restaurants, a small take out Chinese restaurant named Hunan Chen’s Kitchen at 1003A Columbus Avenue (see review on TripAdvisor). This little hole in the wall is amazing.

Hunan Chen's Kitchen

Hunan Chen’s Kitchen  at 1003A Columbus Avenue is excellent

The food and the service is just excellent. The place is so small it can barely hold three people comfortably and it has only one table to sit on and that is always full. The food is so reasonable and the portion sizes are huge. I was there for a second time and had to try their General Tso’s Chicken, which had been raved about online on Grubhub.

general tso's chicken

The General Tso’s Chicken is worth the trip

At about twilight, I took my food and ate it on the benches at the entrance of Morningside Park on the corner of 110th Street and just watched the crowds of people in the park. The large portion of chicken was well-fried and the sauce had a tangy sweetness and just enough fire from the hot chilies to wake me up. It was excellent. The food was steaming hot and the egg roll had just come out of the fryer. With a Coke, the whole meal which could have easily fed two people was $8.25. It was a real steal and the food was wonderful.

My second day I walked in the neighborhood, I concentrated on walking more of the avenues and covered Lenox, Madison, Park and Lexington Avenues. That took time as I walked from 110th to 125th Streets both sides up and down. I also stopped in various parks and businesses. I could see traces of the old Italian neighborhood up on 116th Street east of Park Avenue with many Italian restaurants with Spanish menus.

All three streets are dominated by public housing surrounding 110th Street and between 112th and 115th Streets. The Taft Houses, the Martin Luther King Jr. Houses and the Jefferson Houses pretty much surrounds this section of the neighborhood and you see as far as you can about a dozen hulking buildings surrounded by small businesses. Again, once you cross 116th Street, it starts to change again with new apartment complexes wedged a block from the projects that cater to a whole other person. Surrounding those new apartment buildings are new restaurants and shops especially coffee shops are dotted all over this section of the neighborhood. They are the hang outs for all the twenty and thirty something’s that live there.

Lenox and Fifth Avenues above 116th and near Mount Morris (Marcus Garvey) Park is dominated by the Mount Morris Historic District. Streets that surround the park on the west side of the park are either scaffolded or have already been sandblasted to their original charm. These brownstones and prewar apartments have a turn of the last century charm to them and the blocks are very elegant and well-maintained. When you pass them, really look at the stonework and detail work in the carvings. Are those flowers and faces in the buildings?

Mount Morris Historical District

Mount Morris Historical District

Park Avenue has its own charm and uniqueness to it after you go above 98th Street when the tracks become elevated and it cuts the street in half. Some businesses have been established under the tracks to add to the charm of the area.

The Urban Garden Center at 1640 Park Avenue has a huge array of products for the urban gardener including the trees, bushes and all the equipment for heavy duty gardening. La Marqueta Marketplace is at 1590 Park Avenue, which has an interesting grouping of bakeries and shops that cater to both the locals and the hipsters.

Urban Garden Center

Urban Garden Center at 1640 Park Avenue

https://www.urbangardennyc.com/

La Marqueta III

La Marqueta at 1590 Park Avenue in East Harlem

https://edc.nyc/la-marqueta

There are about three bakeries inside the market and it is a nice place to venture on a long day. Hot Bread Bakery has quite the reputation in the neighborhood.

La Marqueta V

The vendor “Hot Bread Kitchen” at La Marqueta

I stopped at Patisserie Vanessa one afternoon and had a Caramel Caneles ($2.00), which was a tiny crème caramel with burnt sides (see TripAdvisor review). It was a delicious little chewy dessert and was cute to look at and had a wonderful bite to it.  The problem is that these bakeries never seem to be open during the week.

La Marqueta VI

 

The Inside of La Marqueta

Another nice bakery I came across is Lee Lee’s Bakery, which I stopped at for a much needed pastry. This bakery is located at 283 West 118th Street.

Lee Lee Bakery

Lee Lee’s Bakery is at 283 West 188th Street

I had the most amazingly buttery peach pastry that melted in my mouth (see review on TripAdvisor). They also have the most delicious buttery rugelach, little cinnamon pastries. This little store is located right off Fifth Avenue and is worth the trip uptown.

Lee Lee Bakery II

Lee Lee’s Bakery pastries are so buttery

There are several Community Gardens tucked in between the blocks of businesses and the projects. I cam across Peaceful Valley Community Garden at 117th Street that looked like it was being replanted in the middle of the winter in the warm weather. Chenchita’s Garden was at East 112th Street and was also being worked on in the warm weather.  The Villa Santurce Jardinera at East 112th Street looked like it was going to need some work in the spring. That is the resourcefulness of this neighborhood is that the residents have taken these empty lots and created something beautiful in their place. It shows the pride of wanting to build a neighborhood.

Peaceful Valley Community Garden

Peaceful Valley Community Garden at 117th Street

I walked the last section of SoHA on April 3rd and it took most of the day. After a long day of working at the Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen (which I do most mornings before I start by neighborhood walks), I took the subway up to 125th Street and walked down the street from Adam Clayton Powell Boulevard to Park Avenue. 125th Street keeps morphing.

It seems that every building on the block around 5th Avenue is going through some sort of renovation or is being knocked down. It is so funny to see a Red Lobster next to the Apollo Theater (but it is the same when you pass the Cotton Club and how it is dominated by the new Columbia campus extension. It is out of place now). Once you pass 5th Avenue, the businesses start to get a little fancier reflecting the changes in this part of the neighborhood with the renovation of the brownstones around Mount Morris Park (Marcus Garvey Park).

Mount Morris Park

Mount Morris Park (Marcus Garvey Park)

I stopped at Lady Lexis Sweets Bakery at 1931 Madison Avenue to grab a quick snack to keep me going before lunch. They had a nice selection of cookies, candy and cakes in the cases and very creative art work on the walls (See review on TripAdvisor). The mother-daughter team that runs the bakery does a nice job. I had a from scratch M & M cookie that was pretty good but a little on the expense side. I think that $1.75 for a cookie is a little steep but it was well worth it. It had a sugar cookies sweetness to it.

Lady Lexis Bakery

Lady Lexis Bakery at 1931 Madison Avenue

I rounded the corner of 5th Avenue and Madison Avenue and decided to pin-point the walk between 5th Avenue and Lexington Avenue between 125th Street and 116th Street and then Lenox Avenue from 115th Street to 110th Street and retraced my tracks on 125th, 124th, 116th and 110th Streets. The scaffolding keeps going up.

It was such a nice day that I took some time out and walked around Mount Morris Park (Marcus Garvey Park) or about a half hour. I was able to walk all over the park but I want to warn readers about going into the park. I walked around the upper level of the park and there were more than a few suspicious looking guys hanging around the top of the hill of the park. They took one look at me walking around and they left the top of the hill.

I walked around the hill and watched them and then walked around the perimeter of the park. I watched the families in the playground and by the dog park and admired a structure of huts by artist Simone Leigh, that had been placed in the park. Ms. Leigh is an American artist from Chicago now living in New York who holds a BA in Art and Philosophy from Earlham College. Her specialty is art of an auto-ethnographic with a specialty in African art, vernacular objects and feminism (Wiki).

Simone Leigh

Artist Simone Leigh

http://www.artnet.com/artists/simone-leigh/

The exhibit was part of the ‘Flex Public Art’ display as part of the city’s ‘Changing Landscapes’ program. Its a work that shows three huts or ‘imba Yokubikira’ or called ‘kitchen houses’ based on structures in Zimbabwe. The artist from what I read was trying to show the sense of community or a loss of it. They are located the entrance to the hill and are very interesting public art.

Simone Leigh II

Simone Leigh’s ‘Imba Yokubikira’ in Mount Morris Park

After walking the whole park, it was off down 123rd Street and covering the upper section of the neighborhood. Most of the this section of SoHA is dominated by schools and businesses. Before you cross over to 118th Street, most of what I saw were the commercial strips of 125th Street and its back lot 124th Street. As you walk in this area, there are a lot of elementary schools, health clinics, churches and apartment buildings, especially a lot of affordable housing buildings that are being renovated. It seems that the city is trying to upgrade its public housing.

Around 118th Street and Madison Avenue, the neighborhood starts to change again with new apartment buildings and businesses dominating 5th, Madison, Park and Lexington Avenues. This area is being knocked down for new construction and small residential buildings are opening all over the place. The strangest thing is that there is luxury housing opening right next door to the public housing. It seems that the next generation of luxury owners does not mind this arrangement.

In the midst of all of this change and renovation, you discover all sorts of pocket parks and street art.  Artist Naomi Lawrence has a yarn work called ‘Lotus’ on the fence at the corner of Park Avenue and 120th Street.

Version 2

Artist Naomi Lawrence

https://naomirag.com/

Ms. Lawrence is a fabric artist that hails from England who now lives in East Harlem and uses acrylic yarn to create her works of art on chain link fences by schools and public places. This flower sculpture is woven into the fence and is the image of a colorful opening up. This street art that is also part of the ‘Changing Landscapes’ project (Naomi Lawrence Blog site).

Naomi Lawrence II

Artist Naomi Lawrence creating her interesting weaves on a school fence

The ‘Three Women’ sculpture in front of the new apartment building at 120th and 5th Avenue by artist Nnamdi Okonkwo, shows three somewhat rotund women hugging one another. Mr. Okonkwo was born in Nigeria and graduated with a BFA from BYU-Hawaii and currently lives in Fayetteville, GA.

nnamdi Okonkwo II

Artist Nnamdi Okonkwo in front of his work, “Friends”

https://www.nnamdiart.com/

It was interesting to see how these artists expressed themselves. It was not typical of you might see outside.

Nnamdi Okonkwo

“Friends” by Nnamdi Okonkwo

I discovered more urban community gardens while walking around the neighborhood. The Peaceful Valley Community Garden at 117th and Madison Avenue and the Jackie Robinson Garden at 122nd and Park show the creativity of residents with space and plantings. They have managed to put in raised vegetable beds, flower gardens, modern sculpture and stone paths into a tiny area and still make it attractive. I have noticed these small urban parks that are part of the ‘Green Thumb’  initiative. The city is really backing all these small gardens that dot Harlem.

I also noticed that even in the projects that people are adopting the raised vegetable beds. Many of the residents are fencing off space to grow fruits and vegetables in obscure parts of lawns and playgrounds. I noticed this as I walked 114th Street through the Taft, Johnson and Jefferson Housing Projects. There is a little ray of sunshine in these rather depressing complexes. It is sad to walk through what was once supposed to be ‘transition’ housing’ and see desolate parks and playgrounds and the mountains of garbage piling up in their dumpsters and wonder how the city has let this happen.

I also wondered what people thought of a six foot white guy walking the length of these complexes.  These interlocking complexes stretch from Lenox Avenue to 2nd Avenue from 115th to 112th Streets and it is an interesting and eye opening walk of how not to ‘warehouse’ people. Small groups of people gave me either the strangest looks or just pretended that I was not there. Try to walk around the exterior boundaries of these areas.

I revisited 116th Street again with its dozens of eating selections and took a pit stop for lunch at Sam’s Famous Pizza at 150 East 116th Street on the corner of 116th and Lexington Avenue. These over-sized slices are well worth the $2.25 price (See review on TripAdvisor). The sauce has the right amount spices and a rich tomato flavor and is well cooked. The owner and his son seem to know everyone in the neighborhood.

Sam's Famour Pizza

Sam’s Famous Pizza at 150 East 116th Street

For dessert not far from the end of the projects, I discovered Milenio Bakery at 2030 Third Avenue not far from Thomas Jefferson Park. This amazing little bakery (see TripAdvisor review) has a selection of both Spanish and Italian baked treats run by an Asian family and trust me, nothing gets lost in translation.

Milinio Bakery

Milenio Bakery at 2030 Third Avenue

I had the most delicious Spanish sugar cookie, filled with mango cream, I had ever tasted. It was two chewy sugar cookies with the cream in the middle and gave a new twist to a traditional Woopie pie. Among the mouthwatering pastries in the cases were mango and lemon filled puffs, apple turnovers and several Spanish desserts that I have never seen before. The quality is excellent and the selection is interesting. The nice part is that the owners are very engaging and want to be sure that you made the right selection.

I took to munching it on the way back to Thomas Jefferson Park, across the street from the Thomas Jefferson Houses. This park attracts everyone from the kids in the projects playing basketball and soccer to the hipsters who are moving into the former Italian neighborhood strolling with their kids. It is a very Democratic park. It is also in need of a dire renovation and could be a jewel of a park with its view of the river and extensive recreational options. Just try to avoid it towards sundown when most people leave the park as the characters in it get very interesting.

Thomas Jefferson Park II

Thomas Jefferson Park in East Harlem

My last section of the neighborhood that I covered was the entire lengths of 112th and 111th Streets from Lenox to the Jefferson Park and by the time I exited Lenox Avenue at 110th Street, I needed to rest by the Harlem Meer.

At the time of the day, the clouds had started to roll in but people were still playing with their kids in the park or fishing or reading or singing. At sundown, there was still a lot of action going on in Central Park. All I know that after walking 24 blocks by 4 city blocks I was done for the day.

This is why East Harlem is so interesting.

 

Places to Visit:

 

Morningside Park

Morningside Drive

New York, NY  10026

(212) 639-9675

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

https://www.nycgovparks.org/parks/morningsidepark

 

The Harlem Meer/ Charles A. Dana Visitors Center

The Northeast Corner of Central Park

New York, NY 10036

https://www.centralparknyc.org/attractions/harlem-meer

https://www.centralparknyc.org/attractions/charles-a-dana-discovery-center

 

Mount Morris Park (Marcus Garvey Park)

6316 Mount Morris Park

New York, NY  10027

(212) 639-6795

https://www.nycgovparks.org/parks/marcus-garvey-park

https://www.nycgovparks.org/parks/marcus-garvey-park/history

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

 

Thomas Jefferson Park

2180 First Avenue

New York, NY  10029

https://www.nycgovparks.org/parks/thomas-jefferson-park

https://www.nycgovparks.org/parks/thomas-jefferson-park/history

Open: 6:00am-10:00pm

 

Peaceful Valley Community Garden

50 East 117th Street

New York, NY 10035

https://www.facebook.com/peacefulvalleygarden/

https://livinglotsnyc.org/lot/1016220050/

 

Jackie Robinson Community Garden

103 East 122nd Street

New York, NY  10035

https://livinglotsnyc.org/lot/58958/

https://www.explorenycparks.com/parks/jackie-robinson-community-garden

 

Chenchita’s Community Garden

1691-1693 Madison Avenue

New York, NY  10029

https://www.citizensnyc.org/grantee/chenchitas-community-garden

https://www.facebook.com/Chenchitas-Group-Garden-422890787843772/

 

Villa Santurce Jardinera

72 East 112th Street

New York, NY  10029

https://sw-ke.latest.facebook.com/422890787843772/photos/a.1260492604083582/1260495747416601/?type=3&eid=ARCztmOp2frn70B3r1c1u3WQCbA6jitCVYHsKvj6naDBhacgSNrrqU7HeCDtY8rSlZnWQ_eorgiJ0Cp7

https://www.culturenow.org/index.php?page=entry&permalink=00903&seo=Villa-Santurce-Jardinera_

 

Places to Eat:

 

Sam’s Famous Pizza

115 East 116 Street

New York, NY 10029

(212) 348-9437

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Sams-Famous-Pizza-116th/288482227842244

Open: Sunday-Saturday 12:00pm-9:00pm

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d12295525-Reviews-Sam_s_Famous_Pizza-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

 

Milenio Bakery

2030 Third Avenue Number 2

New York, NY  10029

(646) 476-9530

Open:

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d12295539-Reviews-Milenio_Bakery-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

 

Patisserie Vanessa

1590 Park Avenue

New York, NY  10026

(347) 630-2418

https://www.patisserievanessa.com/

Open:  See their website

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d12295544-Reviews-Patisserie_Vanessa-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

 

Lee Lee Bakery

283 West 118th Street

New York, NY 10026

(973) 493-6633

https://www.leeleesrugelach.com/

https://www.leeleesrugelach.com/ordernow/

Open: Sunday 10:00am-5:00pm/Monday-Saturday 10:00am-8:00pm

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d5455686-Reviews-Lee_Lee_s_Baked_Goods-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

 

Hunan Chen’s Kitchen

1003 A Columbus Avenue (Between 109th & 110th Streets)

New York, NY  10025

212-222-1118

https://www.hunanchenskitchen.com/

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

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d4980909-Reviews-Hunan_Chen_s_Kitchen-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

 

Lady Lexus Bakery

1931 Madison Avenue

New York, NY 10035

(212) 722-4111

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

http://www.ladylexissweets.com/

http://www.ladylexissweets.com/about

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

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d4920198-Reviews-Lexis_Lee_s_Sweets_N_Treats-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

 

 

Places to See:

 

Artist Naomi Lawrence’s Work

https://naomirag.com/

https://www.nycgovparks.org/art/art799

 

Artist Simone Leigh’s Work

Who Is the Activist Sculptor Simone Leigh? Here Are 5 Things to Know About This Year’s Hugo Boss Prize Winner

https://www.artsy.net/artist/simone-leigh

 

Artist Alison Saar

http://www.lalouver.com/saar/

http://www.artnet.com/artists/alison-saar/

 

Artist Nnamdi Okonkwo Work

https://www.nnamdiart.com/

https://www.facebook.com/NnamdiSculptures/

 

Urban Garden Center

1640 Park Avenue

New York, NY  10035

(212) 872-3991

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

https://www.urbangardennyc.com/

https://www.facebook.com/urbangardennyc/

 

La Marqueta Marketplace

1590 Park Avenue

New York, NY  10035

(212) 534-4900

Open: Sunday 10:00am-5:00pm/Monday-Saturday 8:00am-5:00pm

https://edc.nyc/la-marqueta

https://www.facebook.com/lamarquetanyc/

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day Sixty-Nine: Walking SoHA in Morningside Heights from 125th Street-110th Street from Riverside Drive to Fredrick Douglas Boulevard March 3rd-March 30th, 2017

What a difference a week makes! I started the first part of my walking project last Friday night when it was 73 degrees outside and just spectacular. People had been out in the parks with their strollers and dogs and kids were playing sports all over the park even into twilight. Now it was about 43 degrees and back to being winter. The kids who were on their winter break really lucked out. They had a week of unseasonable weather to enjoy.

I started this part of the walk on Morningside Drive walking up the hill facing the park. It is some walk but I am sure in warmer weather it would be a lot more pleasant. You really do get your exercise walking this part of the neighborhood. Going up and down hills can take a lot out of you. What I liked best of this part of SoHA was the architecture. It had a combination of college campus appeal with the classroom buildings, the quad and the dorms mixed in with the pre-war buildings which have been renovated back to their original beauty.

Morningside Park

Morning Side Park keeps improving every year

I think the appeal of Morningside Heights is the college atmosphere mixed into the urban setting and the fact that the area is so much safer than it was even ten years ago. This is not the urban campus of my father and my cousin, who are both Alumnus of the school. There has been a big change especially in Morningside Park which borders the neighborhood with Harlem.

Morningside Heights II

Morningside Heights is an urban campus for Columbia University

Even in the middle of winter, the warm weather has done strange things to Mother Nature and the park was starting to bud and bloom a month and a half early. As I walked up and down Morningside Drive, I took a walking tour of the park for a second time. This ice-aged formed park really has a beauty to it when you look up close. The rock formations mixed in with the steps and the flowers peaking up and starting to bloom early adds to the grace of the park. The park just needed some TLC.

The park is full of long paths through the rock formations and offer nice views of the neighborhood below. There are several paths that go up and down the hills so be prepared to walk. By the pond toward the middle of the park, there is an interesting statue donated by respected banker, Alfred Seligman ‘The Bear and the Fawn’ with a little bear overlooking a fawn playing his flute. The statue was designed by American artist Edgar Edward Walter. Before the dedication of the statue, Mr. Seligman who was head of the National Highways Protection Society, died in one of the first documented highway accidents (Daytonian).

The detail work is beautiful and the statue is one of those things you would miss if you did not walk the length of the park. When it was a working fountain, it must have really graced the park. I walked up and down the paths and stairs before I exited the park at 110th Street.

Bear and the Faun

‘The Bear and the Faun’ by artist Edgar Edward Walter

I walked around 110th Street to Amsterdam Avenue and walked up past the Cathedral of St. John the Divine and walked around the church and its gardens and statuary.  Down the long paths of plantings and around the bends of the property, I came across another interesting statue. At the center of the park, there is a breathtaking statue  called the “Peace Fountain”, created in 1985 which shows a unusual look at the battle between good and evil by artist Greg Wyatt, who was an artist in residence at the church.

Greg Wyatt artist

Artist Greg Wyatt

Mr. Wyatt has graduated from Columbia College with BA in Art History and studied at National Academy of Design. He bases his work on the philosophy of the “spiritual realism’ merging realistic images and abstract forms of space, form and energy (Wiki).

 

Peace Fountain St. John the Divine

The ‘Peace Fountain’ by artist Greg Wyatt

Really take some time to look over this statue and its detail work with all the animals, demons and angels. You have to see the figures from all sides to see all the characters in their stances and how it works into the battle of the forces. It is a very powerful statement of good conquering evil. It depicted the Archangel Michael versus Satan. On a warm summer day, it must be a beautiful park. It is a tough call now at the end of the winter.

Walking up Amsterdam Avenue, you hit the heart of Columbia University that runs from 114th Street to about 120th Streets. For pretty much the rest of the neighborhood until you hit 125th Street, this area is all geared to the university. The area is graced with graceful old buildings, some the turn of the last century and many pre-war apartment buildings on the side streets.

The best is when you walk to 116th Street and that leads you in the Quad in the main part of the Columbia campus. This bustling area by the library was full of students who were socializing and sunning themselves on the warmer days. During the breaks from class, the students flooded the streets looking for something to eat or running back to their residence halls.

Columbia University Quad

The Columbia University Quad at 116th Street

Outside the entrance to the Quad, just above 116th Street, there are several food trucks at night that cater to the Asian students offering Chinese, Japanese and Thai food. Take a serious stop and try the food. I had a delicious ‘pork sandwich’ that was chopped roast port on a steamed bun for $4.00, a nice treat after a long walk and I was able to eat it in the Quad. It could have used a little sauce to it but it was still loaded with pork and was a nice size. This steaming chopped pork sandwich was just one of the items that were offered at a very reasonable price to the students. There are noodle dishes and dumplings all around the $3.00-$7.00 range and at lunch and dinner the lines can get quite long. Bring cash.

Amsterdam Avenue like its counterpart neighborhood by the CUNY campus is dotted with great restaurants and coffee shops that cater to both the locals and the students alike.  I had concluded my first day walking the Morningside Heights neighborhood that evening with dinner at V & T Pizzeria, a local eating establishment located at 1024 Amsterdam Avenue (See the review on TripAdvisor). It is the typical red sauce Italian-American restaurant that you would expect from Little Italy not from uptown.

V & T Pizzeria

V & T Pizzeria at 1024 Amsterdam Avenue in Morningside Heights

The food was really good.  I had a house salad with a creamy Italian dressing that was typical for an old-fashioned restaurant with the iceberg lettuce and chopped tomatoes but still good. I was in the mood after a long walk for a meatball hoagie. The sandwich was huge! The only problem was that the meatballs were not that good. I mean they were big and had a nice sauce but the meatballs were average with not that flavor. It was disappointing but the other food coming out looked good, so it will give a reason to come back another time.

Meatball sandwich

The meatball sandwich was okay

I continued up Amsterdam Avenue touring up the sides of both the campus and the edge of the neighborhood that lined the park and you get to see the transition of the area by 123rd Street when you see the General Grant Housing Project, a huge complex that lines the edge of the neighborhood between 123rd Street to 125th Street from Broadway to Morningside Drive.  This complex as nice as it looks from the outside has its share of problems on the inside. I had to walk through the complex a couple of times when walking through 124th Street extension and when I was walking the length of LaSalle Street to Amsterdam Avenue and no problems. It looks like a complex in Miami Beach.

General Grant Houses

The General Grant Houses sit at the edge of the Morningside Heights neighborhood

It is in this area the new extension of Columbia University is taking place between 125th Street and 135th Street along Broadway across from the projects. Once those buildings open this summer that will completely change this part of the neighborhood bringing more students up to this part of the area and all the restaurants along the Broadway stop of the 1 Train and along this part of 125th Street will start to change as you are seeing it now. Old bodegas and cut rate restaurants that catered to the people in the projects are now changing to more upscale restaurants, bars, coffee shops and shops. Broadway alone has three Starbucks and they were all full the entire time I walked the neighborhood. There are some serious changes it will make to this part of Morningside Park.

Walking down Broadway really puts you into the heart of the neighborhood and through the campus. Everything here pretty much caters to the college and the faculty and students. All the restaurants have their own uniqueness to them with the Columbia symbol prominently  displayed on the windows. I found it is nice to get take out and sit in the Quad and eat while watching the students. Two days into touring the area the weather was around 60 degrees so it was nice to eat outside and relax and see the world go by. Reality set in as the winter weather set back in and it was 34 degrees again and back inside I went.

It was a quick walk up Claremont Avenue, the heart of Barnard College, the girl’s school of the college. This is area is being rebuilt and sandblasted as the college is expanding into the neighborhood. Most of the buildings between here and Riverside Avenue are filled with prewar apartments and student housing. Just be aware to prepare to walk on the street as some of the sidewalks are closed off. When it is all done it is going to look even more beautiful with the new buildings and renovations so close to Riverside Park, which in itself was a nice walk during the summer months.

Barnard College II

Barnard College

As I walked the upper streets of the neighborhood, you can see more money is being put into the parks and historical parks in this part of the city. Sakura Park,  which is lined with flowering trees still in winter hibernation, are beginning to see the first sign of spring as the buds are bursting early. On the warm days, there were a lot of students studying or playing games. The park is dedicated to the Japanese in parts with a giant Japanese Lantern Statue  by the International Building that is quite detailed.

Sakura Park

Sakura Park in the Spring months is pretty amazing

This park leads into Riverside Park and the newly renovated Grant’s Tomb (see my review on TripAdvisor and VisitingaMuseum.com). This area for years was over-grown and vandalized with the decline of the neighborhood, which is no longer the case. The tomb has been sandblasted back to its original beauty and when I passed it over the summer was lined with American flags. It is only open at certain times of the week, so plan accordingly.

Grant's Tomb

Grant’s Tomb National Memorial

Next to Grant’s Tomb is a small monument called the Tomb of the Amiable Child (see my review on VisitingaMuseum.com), which should not be missed. On the path close to the park, you will see this small marble urn surrounded by fencing. It is a somber site for a small child who died in the are in the 1700’s .

Tomb of the Amiable Child

The Tomb of the Amiable Child

In Riverside Park I was able to walk over the summer and got a feel for how beautiful the park really is as it hugs the Hudson River. It is a great place to jog, ride a bike or picnic. It has gotten more popular over the years as the park has improved itself with more TLC from the community. The Friends of Riverside Park have done a nice job raising funds and awareness for the care of the park and it shows in the plantings and paths that have improved over the years. In the warm months, the place is in full bloom and with the view of the Hudson River the look is quite spectacular.

When walking the lower streets of the neighborhood on the west side of the park is full of prewar apartments and resident halls for the students as well as buildings that cater to the university. I don’t think there was one bad street on this side of the park. The area is very self-contained for the university and the buildings have an ‘old New York’ feel about them being built at the turn of the last century.

For the blocks between 111th Street to about 120th Street west of Morningside Park it is all about the university with class space and offices and a small Greek Row in the middle of the neighborhood. On the Claremont Avenue section of the neighborhood just west of Riverside Park is where Barnard College, the Woman’s College of Columbia is located and is expanding. More buildings are going up or being added to as the University expands.

This expansion continues in the area above Tiemann Place near the edge of the park and the river. The University is building a new ‘glass box’ section of campus between 125th and 133rd Streets along the river and the buildings should open up within the year. That is changing the whole complexity of the neighborhood around 125th Street in this part of the neighborhood. The upper reaches of Broadway and Amsterdam Avenue’s as well as this section of 125th Street between Marginal Street to Amsterdam Avenue is either getting new restaurants and shops that are catering to the college students or are being knocked down or renovated to cater to the changing population once those four buildings open up across the street from the housing projects.

Columbia Campus Extension

The Columbia University extension above 125th Street is changing the neighborhood

For lunch that afternoon, I ate at Koronet Pizza at 2848 Broadway for a jumbo slice of pizza (see review on TripAdvisor and DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com). This slice is pizza is HUGE and could feed two hungry people very easily. The jumbo slice is part of an 32″ pizza and the pizza was delicious. It has a very flavorful and spicy tomato sauce and uses a good amount and quality of cheese. It took a awhile to devour that delicious slice of pizza. The restaurant attracts a nice mix of neighborhood people, college students and professors and has a good ‘family feel’ about it.

Koronet Pizza

Koronet Pizza at 2848 Broadway has the biggest slices around

On the tip of the neighborhood between LaSalle Street and 125th Street are the Morningside Apartments and the General Grant Houses, which both look more like mixed income apartment buildings than public housing. I really toured the area on this trip. The area landscaping and playgrounds are much better than most housing projects that I have seen in the city and they look better taken care of than most of the housing projects in this area of the city.

This corner of the neighborhood is also home to various small parks such as The West Harlem Piers Park at 125th Street and Riverside Park with benches and paths for walking and enjoying the views of the Hudson River and the cliffs of New Jersey. This is a great area in the summer to listen to music or watch the sun set. The St. Clair Rose Garden is right off St. Clair Place by the underpass and steps leading to Grant’s Tomb. It will be nice to see how this garden looks in the summer months.

West Harlem Pier

The West Harlem Pier Park offers amazing views of the Hudson River

As I traveled east along 124th Street, I walked the island from west to east and it does change from one side of the island to the other. I crossed the boundaries of Morningside Heights to SoHA to Spanish Harlem and you can see the difference from block to block.

Pretty much the blocks west of Fifth Avenue are a mix of pre-war apartment buildings, turn of the last century brownstones and new pocket apartment buildings with a mix of small neighborhood gardens in between the buildings.

On my third day of the walk around the neighborhood, I was able to walk the streets between 124th Street to 120th Street west of Mount Morris (Marcus Garvey) Park. This area between Mount Morris Park West to Adam Clayton Powell Boulevard (7th Avenue) is the Mount Morris Historical District, which is full of beautiful and graceful brownstones which are carefully bring renovated. A good portion of the neighborhood is under scaffolding (as most of Harlem and Washington Heights has been) as the buildings are being restored by their owners.

Mount Morris Park

Mount Morris Park (Marcus Garvey Park)

The stonework of most of these buildings is so detailed and unique with carvings of leaves,  vines and faces gracing the outside of the buildings. Some have stained glass features around the doors and windows and the outside steps have been sandblasted and fixed to new with potted plants and an occasional Christmas feature still decorating the outside of the home.

Mount Morris Historical District

Mount Morris Historic District

This area is also home to many small Community Gardens which at this time of the year are still under snow. There is the ‘Our Little Green Avenue Park’ at 123rd Street, the Joyce David Wilson Garden at 123rd Street, the Five Star Garden at St. Nicholas Avenue at 121st Street and Harlem Art Park at 120th Street at 3rd Avenue. These parks are small pocket parks taken care of by the neighborhood or street associations. I did not get much of a feel for them when they were under six inches of snow.

Five Star Garden Harlem

Five Star Garden Park at 121st Street in the Summer months

To tell you how the neighborhood is diverse in its housing is when you get to 124th Street and 1st Avenue where you have a luxury apartment building across the street from the Wagner Housing Project and the entrance to the Triboro Bridge and Louis Cuvillier Park which is under a renovation. You can see where new restaurants are popping up to cater to these new residents on 1st Avenue, 124th and 125th Streets.

The Wagner Houses I hate to say is a scary area even during the day. I always felt like I was being watched by everyone from the residents, to the Con Ed guys working in the area to the police looking out for the kids leaving school on 120th Street and Paladino Avenue by the river.  People just kept saying hello to me like they were trying to tell me that they saw me there or in the case of the police just watched but tried to ignore me. I see this a lot in Harlem.

Wagner Houses

Walking around the Wagner Houses can be a little intimidating

One saving grace to the whole experience by the school was the bodega, Pleasant Finest Deli, on the corner of 375 Pleasant Avenue and 120th Street (see my review on TripAdvisor), which I could tell catered to the kids coming out of school with sandwiches under $3.00 and piles of chips and snack cakes for fifty cents to a dollar. The deals at this store were amazing and the owners looked like they were happy to see me. Just listening to the foul mouthed parents was interesting. The way they berated their children just floored me. Some of these women should never have had kids.

That evening I went to midtown to eat at the Land of Plenty Chinese restaurant by Bloomingdale’s at 204 East 58th Street (see review on TripAdvisor), a restaurant I have wanted to try for several years when it was ranked the number on Chinese restaurant in New York City by the Village Voice. The food and the service were just excellent.

Land of Plenty Restaurant

The Land of Plenty Restaurant at 204 East 58th Street

I had the most delicious soup dumplings that were made for me and I did not even have to hike down to Chinatown for them. They just burst in my mouth when I bit into them. I had a Shredded Pork with a Sweet Miso sauce with scallions and their Ten Ingredient Fried Rice for my main meal which both were delicious and flavorful. The Sweet Miso  sauce really had a tangy spiciness to it. The service was friendly and welcoming. A definite must when shopping at Bloomies.

Ten ingredient fried rice

Their Ten Ingredient Fried Rice is amazing

I continued on to the east side of Morningside Park, where the Morningside Heights extends as I walked the area from 125th Street to 110th Street that now extends to Fredrick Douglas Boulevard, the new ‘Restaurant Row’ of the neighborhood. This area is dominated by beautiful brownstones of many unique designs, pre-war apartment buildings and many local businesses that are in the midst of change. The neighborhood bodegas are giving way to new restaurants, art galleries and boutique bakeries that are catering to the new residents who are buying all those buildings under scaffolding and the current residents who look like they are enjoying the change.

Along the way I have seen so many gorgeous buildings being restored. The most beautiful is the Washington Irving Building at 203 West 112th Street. This graceful building has the most beautiful stonework and detailed accents to the outside it, you literally stop and just want to stare at it. I have only seen buildings like this midtown buildings on Park Avenue and in the Village.

Washington Irving Building

The Washington Irving Building at 203 West 112th Street

Small pocket parks and community gardens continue to dominate the areas that once housed brownstones. These future flower and vegetable gardens are all over parts of the neighborhood such as the ‘Electric Ladybug Garden’ at 111th Street. There is a distinct  elegance to the area around Adam Clayton Powell Boulevard (7th Avenue) with its tree lined island with trees and flower plantings waiting for the Spring to come.

The area that is rapidly changing the most is Fredrick Douglas Boulevard which among the new businesses is being known as ‘Central Park North’, with several businesses adopted the SoHA (South of Harlem) signature. I have never seen so many expensive restaurants with entrees over the price of $15.00 in one area. I don’t even find the menus that exciting or innovative. They just look like bars with food being served.

On my last day in Morningside Heights, I tested the boundaries and walked the entire length of 116th Street from one side of the island to the other. You see more local businesses along the 116th shopping corridor with many soul food, seafood, pizza and local chicken places dominating to a very diverse population. Closer to the Columbia campus, you have more upscale places to eat but once you cross Fredrick Douglas Boulevard and head toward Spanish Harlem, it can be anything from the latest African cooking to island cooking from Jamaica to fast food and the chain restaurants to local bakeries serving empanadas and doughnuts. You can eat your way through the entire street and it would take months to do.

On the streets from 119th-115th Streets from Morningside Park to 5th Avenue are lined with a series of brownstones and pre-war apartments which hug the ‘Mount Morris Historical District’ or just outside of it. These blocks are going through a tremendous change right now as students and recent graduates are spreading out from the traditional borders of the neighborhood, which means the west side of the park and moving into this section especially to the 5th Avenue border. Crossing Fredrick Douglas Boulevard means even pushing the traditional boundaries of the neighborhood and going into SoHA. By the time you cross Lenox Avenue below 115th Street, you hit the long line of housing projects from 112th-115 Streets and even the streets surrounding the projects are being fixed up.

I have never seen so many new restaurants and stores opening up especially opening up this economy. All of these pocket businesses are opening right next to the traditional neighborhood stores and you can see that changing for the next few years. There are so many small luxury housing projects going up in every corner of the neighborhood that will need to be catered to and the local population seems to like the additions to the many blocks as I see a diverse crowd in all the businesses. Even most of the newer businesses in the area are adopting the SoHA name.

SoHA

Not everyone is happy about the SoHA name in Harlem

Pretty much everything west of Fredrick Douglas Boulevard and west to Morningside Park is considered part of the Morningside Heights area now as the last of the empty buildings are being renovated and a lot of the Mount Morris Historical area is under scaffolding. There is a lot of pride in this neighborhood as it keeps changing and improving itself.

On my last night in Morningside Heights after walking almost 28 city blocks, I indulged a little and had dinner at LaSalle Dumpling Room on 3141 Broadway (see review on TripAdvisor). Make this a stop if you are visiting Columbia campus because the food and the service are excellent. All the dumplings are made fresh on the spot per order and come out cooked as light as a feather.

LaSalle Dumpling II

LaSalle Dumpling at 3141 Broadway should not be missed

The Pork & Crab Soup Dumplings are excellent, full of juiciness and flavor and the pan-fried pork dumplings are light and delicious and were perfectly cooked. I also tried the Dong Jing Rice Bowl which was a combination of white rice, sautéed beef, egg, onions and cheddar cheese in a brown sauce and the combination worked nicely (even though the onions were not necessary). The service was excellent.

LaSalle Dumpling

 

The Soup Dumplings here are excellent

This section of SoHA is catering to the large and growing population of college students and those post-graduates who want to live in the area. It is more of an extension of the Upper West Side than traditional Harlem. Take a walk around soon because it just keeps changing.

Just don’t call it SoHA to the wrong person!

 

Places to Eat:

 

V & T Pizzeria

1020 Amsterdam Avenue

New York, NY  10025

(212) 663-1708

Home

Open: Sunday & Monday 11:30am-11:00pm/Tuesday-Saturday 11:30am-12:00am

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d459365-Reviews-V_T_Pizzeria-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

 

LaSalle Dumpling

3141 Broadway

New York, NY 10027

(212) 961-0300https://la-salle-dumpling-room.business.site/

Open: Sunday-Saturday 11:30am-9:30pm

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d10834141-Reviews-La_Salle_Dumpling_Room-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

 

Koronet Pizza

2848 Broadway

New York, NY 10025

(212) 222-1566

https://www.koronetpizzany.com/

Open: Sunday-Saturday 10:00am-9:00pm

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d426021-Reviews-Koronet_Pizzeria-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

My review on DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/diningonashoestringinnyc.wordpress.com/273

 

Land of Plenty

204 East 58th Street

New York, NY 10022

(212) 308-8778

http://www.landofplenty58.com/

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

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d3175158-Reviews-Land_of_Plenty-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

 

Pleasant Finest Deli

375 Pleasant Avenue at 120th Street

New York, NY 10035

(212) 348-6666

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d12379766-Reviews-Pleasant_Finest_Deli-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

 

Places to Visit:

 

Morningside Park

Morningside Drive

New York, NY  10026

(212) 639-9675

https://www.nycgovparks.org/parks/morningsidepark

Open: Sunday-Saturday 7:00am-1:00am

 

The Columbia University Quad

New York, NY  10027

https://www.columbia.edu/

https://undergrad.admissions.columbia.edu/photo/van-am-quad

 

Sakura Park

500 Riverside Drive

New York, NY  10027

(212) 369-9675

Open: Sunday-Saturday 7:00am-1:00am

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

https://www.nycgovparks.org/parks/sakura-park/history

 

Riverside Park

Along the Hudson River West Side of Manhattan

New York, NY  10027

(212) 369-9675

Open: Sunday-Saturday: 24 Hours

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

https://riversideparknyc.org/

 

Grant’s Tomb National Memorial

West 122nd Street & Riverside Drive

New York, NY 10027

(212) 666-1640

https://www.nps.gov/gegr/index.htm

https://www.nycgovparks.org/park-features/riverside-park/virtual-tour/grants-tomb

Open: Sunday 9:00am-5:00pm/Monday & Tuesday Closed/Wednesday-Saturday 9:00am-5:00pm

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g60763-d105812-Reviews-General_Grant_National_Memorial-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

My review on VisitingaMuseum.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/visitingamuseum.com/1354

 

Tomb of the Amiable Child

554 Riverside Drive at West 124th Street

New York, NY 10027

Open: 6:00am-1:00am

https://www.nycgovparks.org/parks/riversidepark/monuments/1206

My review on VisitingaMuseum.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/visitingamuseum.com/630

 

West Harlem Piers park

Marginal Street & 132nd Street

New York, NY  10027

(212) 369-9675

Open: 6:00am-1:00am

https://www.nycgovparks.org/parks/west-harlem-piers

https://www.nycgovparks.org/parks/west-harlem-piers/events

 

St. Clair Rose Garden

On the hill at St. Claire Street

New York, NY  10027

https://foursquare.com/v/st-claire-rose-garden/4dd5923ed1647fcf3e1d4aa2

 

Mount Morris Park (Marcus Garvey Park)

6316 Mount Morris Park West

New York, NY  10027

(212) 369-9675

https://www.nycgovparks.org/parks/marcusgarveypark

https://www.nycgovparks.org/parks/marcus-garvey-park/events

 

With the smaller Community Gardens, please check their websites or the NYCParks.com site for hours and days open:

 

Electric Ladybug Garden

241 West 111th Street

New York, NY  10026

Welcome to the Garden!

Open: April to October

 

Our Little Green Avenue Park

West 123rd Street

New York, NY  10026

https://greenthumb.nycgovparks.org/gardensearch.php

 

Joyce David Wilson Garden

West 123rd Street

New York, NY  10026

(212) 369-9675

Open: See NYCParks.com site

 

Harlem Art Garden

West 120th Street & Sylvan Place

New York, NY  10035

(212) 369-6975

https://www.nycgovparks.org/parks/harlem-art-park

Open:  Sunday-Saturday 7:00am-11:00pm

 

Five Star Garden

252 West 121st Street

New York, NY  10027

(212) 369-6975

Five Star Garden

https://www.opengreenmap.org/greenmap/healthy-living-harlem/five-star-garden-3512

 

Day Sixty-Four: Back to Harlem between 145th Street to 125th Street East of St. Nicholas Avenue (NoHA) December 30th, 2016-February 16th, 2017

I started walking Harlem again after the holidays and I saw the last vestiges of the holidays all over the neighborhood. Some of the brownstone owners still had their wreaths and garland decorating their homes and it was still quite striking to see a ‘Victorian Christmas’ in front of me. There were still some Santa’s up and trees with lights at twilight and it was nice to see that some people kept their decorations up for the Epiphany.

Christmas in Harlem II

People had not yet taken their decorations down

I started my day by walking the avenues first and then I would do the side streets. It is very different to do this walk in the winter months than in the summer as the days get short and it gets dark very quickly. Some parts of this part of the neighborhood can be somewhat sketchy so try not to venture out too late. I would not say that some parts are dangerous but in any part of New York City even in daylight, you should watch yourself. Even parts of the Upper East Side can be daunting after dark.

The part of the neighborhood that I was covering on this part of the walk is from south of 145th Street east of Fredrick Douglas Boulevard and Edgecombe Avenue to FDR Drive, which is near impossible to walk as their is no outlet to get onto it with getting yourself killed.

I had covered most of First, Second, Third and Lexington Avenues over the summer but I walked them again to see if there were any changes. There were a few as new buildings are going up by 128th Street and some of the businesses in the area had splashed some new paint on the buildings. This area of the triangle bounded from Lexington Avenue from 131st Street to 125th Street is dominated by commercial buildings and the bus depots with a few small parks that have seen better days.

Harlem River Park

The nicer side of Harlem River Park

There is a very nice recreational area that I walked through on 128th Street, The Harlem River Park,  that was very active in the Summer with loads of kids playing soccer and baseball but in the winter months, there were a few kids milling around and playing chase and soccer. Mostly groups of kids hanging out after school. As I walked up the ramp to the 3rd Avenue Bridge to the Bronx, I noticed a few pairs of eyes watching me as I was watching them. The same thing happened at Colonel Charles Young Playground on West 145th Street and Lenox Avenue.

Colonel Charles Young Playground

The Colonel Charles Young Playground could use some work

In the summer, the Colonel Charles Playground was very active with a huge basketball tournament that had attracted a big crowd. In the winter, it had just a few kids playing basketball and a few mothers strolling with their kids. The site of a six foot tall white guy had people staring at me  but I have gotten used to it by this point.

Colonial Charles Young

Colonel Charles Young, the third Black graduate of West Point

Even Park Avenue in this part of Manhattan is not very glamorous. Much different from the blocks south of 96th Street. Up here, it is more commercial with a few schools in the area and a few new apartment houses. There are many small businesses and the area is mostly geared towards transportation. It is not a place to be late at night if you are not from the neighborhood.

Around 132nd Street down to about 128th, the glamour continues with the Department of Sanitation having one of their uptown buildings. This area under the train underpass is where they keep all the garbage trucks and the area is really busy during the days of pick up. It gets a little scary up here at night and it does smell but also too you get to see how the city works. I just wonder how this effects the health of so many residents who are living in public housing that surround the area.

Once you pass Park Avenue, then the neighborhood becomes more residential and you really see the beautiful brownstones and apartment buildings. From Madison Avenue to 7th Avenue, most of the streets are lined with the most graceful buildings from the turn of two centuries ago. Some of the doorways were still decorated for the holidays and it complimented the homes nicely.

This area of Harlem is dominated by many large public housing complexes, which is the reason why the Harlem section of the city will remain a  diverse section of the city. This is unless the city decides to sell off their housing department to meet the demand for housing at market rates. This would really change the complexity of the city.

Walking the Avenues did not take as long as walking the streets. I was able to walk from 1st Avenue to Fredrick Douglas Boulevard in two days and get a real view on how the commercial districts are slowly changing. Since the summer, many businesses I have noticed have closed or have been replaced by chain businesses. It is funny that for the number of years that the city moaned and groaned about chain businesses not wanting to enter the city it is now being dominated by these businesses often pushing out the mom & pop businesses that give each neighborhood its uniqueness.

The one thing about Harlem is that if you ever want a quick snack, there is no lack of bodega’s and small restaurants that are reasonably priced. I stopped in at Food Company Deli at Madison and 130th Street (now closed) for pastilitos, those wonderful and reasonable meat pies I enjoyed so much in Washington Heights. They were $1.25 here but still delicious.

They were freshly cooked and full of chicken and beef respectively. They had a wonderful selection of hot snacks, probably for the after-school crowd from the two schools around the corner and the people playing in the park down the road. All I know is that the owner got very excited about me being there and jumped through hoops when I walked in and paid for my purchase in cash.

empanada stand II

The Beef Empanadas were delicious

When both walking the avenues and the streets, you will notice that there are a large number of public housing units that spread over several blocks. The Drew Hamilton Housing Complex dominates from 144th to 141st Streets from Adam Clayton Powell Boulevard (7th Avenue) to Fredrick Douglas Boulevard (8th Avenue) and Fredrick Samuels Houses run from 141st to 139th Streets between Lenox Avenue and Adam Clayton Powell Boulevard (7th Avenue).

 

Drew Hamilton Houses

The Drew Hamilton Houses

fredrick samuels houses harlem

The Fredrick Samuels Houses were just hit by a fire

Saint Nicholas Houses at 127th to 131st Streets was my start off point since the summer months and where I completed the walk in February at 6:30pm while watching a group of kids play basketball (their park is still having a major makeover that has been going on since the summer months).

St. Nicholas Houses

The Saint Nichols Houses were also just struck with fire

Between 142nd Street and 139th Streets, from Lenox to 5th Avenue, you have the mixed income and renovated Savoy Park Apartments. They are gated and you can see by the landscaping and the cars in the lots not public housing. It is much better taken care of then the surrounding housing but reading reviews on the internet, they still seem to have similar problems. Even though this series of former public housing still has older residents and am not sure if all the buildings are fully renovated yet.

Savoy Park Apartments

I walked through most of these complexes around twilight and no one ever bothered me. Most people either ignored me or looked the other way. Sometimes groups of young men would be on their cell phones while I was walking on one side of the street and then would disappear by the time I walked back down the other side of the street. Since I criss-crossed most of the neighborhood for a second time, I was able to judge how the neighborhood was changing just in the few months it took to walk this side of Harlem.

The areas the surround the CUNY campus seem to have the most changes to it. Adam Clayton Powell Boulevard and Fredrick Douglas Boulevard keep changing all the time in the areas between 140th Streets to about 132nd Street. Many of the buildings have the ‘new window’ syndrome, where you can tell the building is either been renovated or in the process of being renovated.

This is where your newer restaurants and shops are popping up. This is especially true at around St. Nichols Boulevard and Edgecombe Avenues where brownstones and pre-war apartments being sandblasted back to sparkling perfection with new plantings and artwork to accompany them.

Dorrance Brooks Square

Dorrance Brooks Square Park and the Historic District

The homes around Dorrance Brooks Square Park between 136th to 137th Streets have a real beauty to them with their unique designs and big windows over-looking the small park. The park was named in 1925 after Dorrance Brooks, a WWI veteran killed in action before the end of the war (his father was a Civil War veteran as well).

Dorrance Brooks

Private First Class Dorrance Brooks WWI

A native to Harlem, he was the first Black soldier to have a park named after him (NYParks.com).

Dorrance Brooks Square II

The homes around Dorrance Brooks Square Park

The area gets even nicer in the fast gentrifying St. Nicholas Historic District, known as ‘Strivers Row’ of brownstone homes between 137th and 139th Streets right off St. Nicholas Park between Fredrick Douglas and Adam Clayton Powell Boulevards. These majestic buildings were once ‘the’ area of Harlem and are fast taking their rightful place in the neighborhood again. So much of the block I have passed over the past two months has been under scaffolding (as much of the neighborhood has been).

Strivers Row

‘Striver’s Row’

These buildings built between 1891-1893 in the Colonial, Georgian and Italian Renaissance styles and  have been home to many famous residents including musician Eubie Blake and congressman Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Really take time to look at the architecture and the detail work. You can still see traces of the past century in the details.

Strivers Row II

‘Striver’s Row’ in the East 130’s

The commercial avenues is where you are seeing the most changes. The weird part is that it changes from block to block. Even the restaurants change. You can have a hip new barbecue place next to a Chinese restaurant with bullet proof glass and a small slot to get your food. The funny part is when the young white kids enter these Chinese restaurants and the looks on their faces when they are ordering. It can such a juxtaposed array of businesses catering to both old and new residents. Even when I walk in the owners seemed perplexed with who I was and what I was doing there. This happens right across the street from the housing projects but even in the nicest restaurants in the area, it is a mixed crowd of residents enjoying themselves.

One note when walking this upper part of Harlem is that there are scarce public bathrooms around the area. Outside of the McDonald’s on Adam Clayton Powell Boulevard the only  other bathroom you can use in the neighborhood is in the much needed in renovation Fred Samuels Park. The park was named after Frederick E. Samuel, the three term Harlem Congressman who passed away in 1985 and had brought significant positive changes to the community.

Fred Samuels Park

Fred Samuel’s Playground has decent bathrooms

Their bathrooms are clean but still falling apart. The park is located between 139th and 140th Streets off Lenox Boulevard and is well used both days I passed it. You would think of the condition of the park and its bathrooms though that the park system could do more for the neighborhood.

Another part of the neighborhood is the very busy and very famous “Harlem Hilton”, Engine 69, Ladder 28 Battalion 16 located on 143rd Street, a block that I am sure has completely changed over the years. The years of the ‘burn baby burn’ days are long over but the company was out the whole time I was there making calls all over the neighborhood. This famous fire company had seen it share of fires over the years. With all the public housing in the area, it looks like the companies are kept busy.

Harlem Hilton II

The ‘Harlem Hilton’ Engine 69/Ladder 28 one of the busiest houses in the FDNY

Two unique blocks that I passed was the 132nd Street neighborhood and their garden, the West 132rd Street Community Garden that is tended and planted by the neighborhood association and compliments the well-taken care of brownstones on the street. The effect must look nice in the summer.

132nd Street Community Garden II

The West 132nd Street Garden in the summer months

Another nice looking garden is the Harlem Rose Garden at 6 East 129th Street. It was under a foot of snow the time I passed it but it must be quite nice in June.

132nd Street Community Garden

There are also the ‘Harlem Grown’ gardens at West 127th Streets, which is an urban youth garden that caters to the children in the neighborhood by sponsoring programs and volunteer planting while working with schools to create school gardens.

Harlem Grown

Harlem Grown in the summer months

This unique programs gets kids involved with the whole process of urban farming. Again under a foot of snow when I passed it , you could see traces of activity in the small green houses on the property.

Harlem Rose Garden

Harlem Rose Garden at 6 East 129th Street

Some of the most beautiful buildings in the neighborhood was the Astor Row block on West 130th Street. These 28 single family brick houses were built by William Backhouse Astor Jr. between 1880 to 1883. These homes, mostly newly renovated have front and side yards and wooden porches that have been added again since their renovations. Most have renovated  but in the middle of the development there is one home that is bricked up with a huge sign that says ‘not abandoned and not for sale. Don’t inquire.’ on the door. This is how desperate people are to buy into the historical housing in this area.

Astor Row Houses

Astor Row Houses

After seven weeks of walking this part of North Harlem, I finally reached 128th Street, months after the summer months of walking from 125th to 128th Streets. It was so nice to see the park at the Saint Nicholas Houses where I had started so many months ago.

Much has changed since the summer months with Colombia University growing by the Hudson River side of the island and scaffolding all over the areas surrounding the areas between Madison Avenue to Fredrick Douglas Boulevard where brownstones and prewar apartments are being snatched up quickly.

More college students are moving in and venturing to further reaches of the area and the housing projects are even going through their own renovations. It won’t be so strange this time to see college students sunning themselves in St. Nicholas and Jackie Robinson Parks anymore. The whole area is changing and there is a lot of investment in the neighborhood not just in housing but in the parks as well. With community gardens and block associations cleaning up empty lots, the pride of Harlem is alive and well. You just have to look for it.

This part of the walk completes the whole neighborhood above 125th Street known by the realtors now as NoHA, North of Harlem.

Now on to Morningside Heights.

 

Places to Visit:

 

Harlem River Park

Harlem River Drive at 128th Street

New York, NY 10035

(212) 639-9675

Open: 7:00am-6:00pm (See website)

https://www.nycgovparks.org/parks/harlem-river-park

https://www.nycgovparks.org/parks/harlem-river-park-bikeway

 

Colonel Charles Young Playground

West 145 Street & Lenox Avenue

New York, NY  10037

(212) 639-9675

https://www.nycgovparks.org/parks/col-young-playground

https://www.nycgovparks.org/parks/col-young-playground/highlights/19658

Open: 7:00am-6:00pm

 

Dorrance Brooks Square

6 Edgecombe Avenue

New York, NY 10030

(212) 639-9675

Open: No posted hours

https://www.nycgovparks.org/parks/dorrance-brooks-square/highlights/11986

http://6tocelebrate.org/neighborhood-items/dorrance-brooks-square-manhattan/

 

Fred Samuels Playground

Lenox Avenue and East 140th Street

New York, NY  10030

(212) 639-9675

Open:  Sunday-Saturday 7:00am-6:00pm

https://www.nycgovparks.org/parks/fred-samuel-playground

https://www.nycgovparks.org/parks/fred-samuel-playground/history

 

The 132nd Street Block Association Garden

117 East 132nd Street

New York, NY  10027

https://www.nycservice.org/organizations/983

https://www.nycgovparks.org/about/history/historical-signs/listings?id=12185

 

Harlem Rose Garden

6 East 129th Street

New York, NY  10035

https://www.facebook.com/HarlemRoseGarden/

 

Harlem Grown

127 West 127th Street

New York, NY  10027

(212) 870-0113

http://www.harlemgrown.org/

http://www.harlemgrown.org/about