Tag Archives: Walk Around Manhattan

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”, 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 landmarked 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.

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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).

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Kamila Myzel minding the store at Myzels 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.

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).

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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.

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Christmas at The Peninsula Hotel

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.

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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).

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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The Malborough Building open air exhibition of Tom Otteness works

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Each of the works is very interesting

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Artist Tom Otteness

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 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).

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Carnegie Hall 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).

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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.

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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 “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).

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

The house was sold to millionaire Samuel Bowne in 1898 when the Schieffelin’e 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.

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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.

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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).

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Artist Joan Miro in his later years

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

 

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

 

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 Seventeen: Walking the Washington Heights Border: West Side of Broadway 181st to 153rd Streets September 28th, 2015

I took a walk on Riverside Drive today, completing the west side of Broadway from 181st Street to 153rd Streets, on a beautiful sunny day. Being a little humid did not help but as the day wore on it got cooler and nicer to walk. Riverside Drive breaks into breaks into two sections around 161st Street with one section ending at Broadway and another part aligning the park. I decided to take the long route first and walk down to about 143rd Street, enjoying the views of the park and stopping  to look at the views of the palisades in New Jersey There are lots of scenic spots to view from.

Riverside Drive

Riverside Drive if full of interesting architecture

I stopped for lunch at George’s Pizza at 726 West 181st Street, a well known pizzeria that has been around since 1960  (now closed). They have a great lunch special of two giant slices and a can of soda for $5.00 and the pizza here is really good. The pizza maker makes a nice sauce and it has a rich flavor to it.

Georges Pizza

Georges Pizza at 726 West 181st Street

The pizza was perfectly cooked and with the size of the slices, I did not need any dinner. It is a small hole in the wall place that is popular with the locals and was very busy that afternoon. You really need to check it out when in the neighborhood. The pizza cook is a really nice guy to boot.

Pranzo Pizza

The pizza is delicious!

I doubled back up Broadway to about 156th Street and started the walk up Riverside Drive from here. What’s nice about this section is the stone wall along the pocket park that lines this section of the drive. They make a nice bench for conversing with people as many residents seem to take advantage of during the day. There were lots of people socializing on this sunny afternoon.

Audubon Park

Audubon Park and the cemetery is the border of Washington Heights and Harlem

What’s nice about the little park between the streets is the rock formations similar to the one you will see around 190th Street harking back to a time that this area was dominated by rocky hills not paved smooth by roads and housing developments. There is a natural beauty to this park.

The brownstones that line this area are surrounding by potted plants and window boxes, showing a colorful display of seasonable flowers and plants. They accent the buildings very well. I was able also to finish all the side streets between Riverside and Broadway noticing that a lot of these buildings are now under renovation. More and more of these buildings are going from rentals to condos and you can see the money that is going into upscaling them. You can see it from the lobbies that you can view from the street to the new windows and sandblasting that is going on in the front of many of these buildings. This part of the neighborhood is going through a major transition.

I doubled back down Broadway to look over the selection of restaurants that were closed the last time I walked this part of the street and took a long walk on 155th Street down to the bridge. It really is a funny thing about 155th Street, how much it changes from one side of Manhattan to another.

Polo Grounds Apartment

The Polo Grounds Apartments are on West 155th Street

For some reason, you really can feel the difference from one side of the street to the other. By Riverside Drive, it is all brownstones and pre-war housing that is being renovated. By the other side by the bridge, it is a large public housing complex.

Audubon Trerrace

Audubon Terrace is on one side of East 155th Street

On a break it was back to the lady who sells the shaved ice for a mango ice cup. I really look forward to those two scoops of mango ice. It must be all the years that I lived in the islands myself. I still am trying to find the elusive Guamanian treat of a combination of soft serve, shaved ice and lining it with fruit syrups. Now that was heaven on a hot day.

The last part of the day was spent walking up the east side of Broadway. Not knowing when I started on this side of the street, I walked from 155th Street to 207th Street. It didn’t take as long as I thought but my feet reminded me it was a distance. It was interesting to see all the restaurants I tried, all the stores I entered and all the bakeries I had to stop in, all delicious and very reasonable. There are many great business owners up here. I made it to 207th Street when it got dark.

The outdoor cafes of Dyckman Street were in full swing that evening with such a warm night and everyone was out eating dinner and just enjoying the first warms days of the Fall. New York really comes alive at night, especially in this area where people are still in Fort Tryon Park jogging, walking or just out playing dominoes. You see that side of people that  enjoy living in this neighborhood.

Dyckman Street

The restaurant scene along Dyckman Street in Inwood just keeps growing.

 

Places to Eat:

Georges Pizza

726 West 181 Street

New York, NY 10033

http://georgespizzanewyork.net/

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d478960-Reviews-George_s_Pizza-New_York_City_New_York.html

http://www.georgespizzadinner.com/

(Now Closed for Business)

 

Visit the shopping area of 207th Street with all its great Dominican Restaurants and stores

Day Seven: Visiting Lower Inwood Park Neighborhood August 15th, 2015 (revisited again December 2019)

My walk today took me all over the lower park of Inwood. My all day walk took me from the northern border of 207th Street to the Harlem River covering both sides of Dyckman Street to Inwood Park and the Marina area covering Payson Avenue and the lower part of Seaman Avenue. My legs were killing me at the end of the day but the sites I saw were amazing.

I started at the 207th Street stop and walked up 207th Street walking both sides and peeking into the small businesses that lined the street. There are still a lot of Mom & Pop stores in this area catering to the local clientele. On a recent visit to the neighborhood I had both breakfast and lunch at G’s Coffee Shop at 634 207th Street (see reviews on TripAdvisor and DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com). The food is so reasonable (their breakfasts are delicious) and the service is very friendly. You feel like you are part of the neighborhood here.

G's Coffee Shop I

G’s Coffee Shop burgers at 634 207th Street are excellent

I walked both sides up and down Seaman Avenue lined with pre-war apartments and sprinkled in with some small houses. Then I back tracked to walking the side streets of 204th Street, Cooper Street,  Academy Street, Beak Street and Cumming Street admiring all the buildings and pocket parks along the way. I doubled back to Seaman Avenue and walked Payson Avenue which lines Inwood Hill Park.

The apartment buildings that face the park are offered spectacular views of the flora and fauna of the park and paths leading into the park are just steps away. It is interesting that taking some of the paths off Payson Avenue lead you right into the interior of the park and takes you into the interior of a forest right on Manhattan Island.

Once you exit Payson Avenue to Dyckman Street, walk the stretch of Inwood Hill Park to the end. You will pass a very active playground which on the weekend seems to be one long birthday party. At the end of Dyckman Street on the Hudson River side you will find the very edge of Inwood Park that leads to La Marina Restaurant at 348 Dyckman Street on one side that offers sweeping views of Hudson River and the Palisades on the New Jersey side.

The other side of the street leads to the soccer fields and to the Dyckman Street pier and next to it a small picturesque beach and rock formation. It offers some of the best views of the Hudson River and who knew that there was a beach in this part of Manhattan. On a sunny day, it is the most relaxing place to relax on the benches and just look at the view of the Hudson River and the cliffs across the river.

Dyckman Beach Picture

This little beach is interesting in warm weather.

After a long rest, I walked back down Dyckman Street to cover the area between that and Riverside Drive which opens to Fort Tryon Park. These streets have a row of pre-war apartment buildings that offer great views of the park and as you exit, more small pocket parks and playgrounds are on both sides. Dyckman Street between Payson Avenue and Broadway is lined with upscale eateries making it the ‘Restaurant Row’ of Inwood with more on the way.

Fort Tryon Park I

Tort Tyron Park entrance

I took the walk to the other side of Dyckman Street that lead to Fort Tyron Park and from the hill offers another view of the Hudson. I relaxed in two smaller parks that are part of this sea of green on Dyckman Street. The very active Ann Loftus Playground, named after a local neighborhood leader,  had all the rambunctious charm that a playground should have with kids playing on the swings, jumping through an active fountain and climbing on the jungle gym, which I thought had been outlawed since the 80’s. Parents chatted with one another while kids ran all over the park.

Ann Loftus Park.jpg

Ann Loftus Playground and Park

Another park across the street, the Lt. William Tighe Park Triangle, which is named after a prominent Inwood resident and veteran of two World Wars, was locked for the day but I could see the colorful plantings and small benches that lined the park. This park sits across from the Dyckman Street ‘Restaurant Row”.

william tighe park

William Tighe Park Triangle

I made my first pit stop of the day at McDonald’s for one of their new frozen Strawberry Lemonade ($2.00). I have been swearing off McDonald’s for a while but this is something so perfect and wonderful to have on a hot humid day. It is so sweet and tart it will quench your thirst while you are walking around the area. It is the perfect fast food drink.

I made my way down Dyckman Street on the other side, passing many family owned businesses catering to the neighborhood and a few national chains proving that this area is very up and coming. I covered the lower parts of Sherman, Post and Nagel Streets lined with their apartment buildings and businesses until I passed  Fort George Avenue and the start of High Bridge Park.

Inwood Hill Park IV

The entrance to High Bridge Park off 207th Street in the Fall

Along the stretch of Dyckman Street the park while rustic was full of trash. It wrecked the effect of the high hills and large boulders with their small paths. Once passing 10th Avenue, I reached the entrance of Harlem River Drive and the beginning of High Bridge Park with the lush greenery and small parks and gardens within the larger park.

High Bridge Park is unique in itself that there are many smaller parks that are part of it. As I walked into the park on a busy weekend day, it seemed that every family in the area was either having a barbecue or a birthday party as people were cooking in every part of the lawn that was open. As you enter the park and walk down the path off Harlem River Drive you find the quiet and secluded Swindler Cove Park with its well-tended paths and natural preserve appearance along with beautiful views of the Harlem River. These winding paths will take you through the back woods and offers nice places to sit and chat.

High Bridge Park IV

High Bridge Park

I then walked up 10th and 9th Avenues crisscrossing the side streets up to 207th street. At the end of each side street from 201st through 207th there is a small park at the end of the block that the park system runs. Again these parks, as small as they were filled with families having small parties. Each little park was called Sherman Cove Park and all offered nice views of the Harlem River.

Sherman Cove Park

Sherman Cove Park

It was a nice place to rest after a long day of walking. I finished my walk on this side of Inwood with a grape soda at the Community Food Store at 2893 Broadway. This bustling store offers everything you need for a day in the park or to run a small business.

My last stop of the day when I doubled back down 207th Street was a snack at Dichter Pharmacy and Soda Shoppe at 4953 Broadway. This Pharmacy is a throw back to the old Woolworth stores with the things you need to buy in the front and an ice cream parlor and lunch counter to the side. I saw their sign for ‘the best ice cream sundae’s in New York’, so I had to test their claim. I was not disappointed. I had a vanilla and blueberry sundae that hit the spot after a hot day and was tempted with an order of Mozzarella sticks but decided to be good.

Ditcher Pharmacy

Dichter Pharmacy at 4953 Broadway

They have a full menu of lunch and dinner items and it is worth checking out this unique spot. It is worth it just to sit back and chat with the soda jerk. So many great things to see today though my feet were killing me.

 

Places to Eat:

Dichter Pharmacy and Soda Shoppe

4953 Broadway

New York, NY 10034

(212) 569-1230

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

Review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d8439353-Reviews-Dichter_Pharmacy-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

 

McDonald’s

208 Dyckman Street

New York, NY  10039

(212) 569-2909

http://www.mcdonalds.com

Open: 24 hours

Review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d5065796-Reviews-McDonald_s-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

 

La Marina

348 Dyckman Street

New York, NY  10039

(212) 567-6300

http://www.lamarinanyc.com

Open: Monday-Thursday-3:00pm-12:00am/Friday-3:00pm-1:00am/Saturday-11:00am-1:00pm/Sunday-11:00am-12:00am

My review of La Marina on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d3459344-Reviews-La_Marina-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

 

Community Food & Juice

2893 Broadway

New York, NY 10025

(212) 665-2850

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

 

G’s Coffee Shop

634 West 207th Street

New York, NY  10034

(212) 942-0679

Free Delivery

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

https://www.facebook.com/pages/category/Breakfast—Brunch-Restaurant/Gs-Coffee-Shop-205601462950934/

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d17445018-Reviews-G_s_Coffee_SHop-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

 

Places to Visit:

 

Ann Loftus Playground

4746 Broadway

New York, NY  10040

https://www.nycgovparks.org/planning-and-building/capital-project-tracker/project/8827

Anne Loftus Playground

Open: 6:00am-1:00am

 

Fort Tyron Park

Riverside Drive to Broadway

New York, NY  10040

https://www.nycgovparks.org/parks/fort-tryon-park

(212) 795-1388

Open: 6:00am-1:00am,

 

Lt. William Tighe Triangle Park

Dyckman Street & Riverside Drive

New York, NY 10034

(212) 639-9675

https://www.nycgovparks.org/parks/lt-wm-tighe-triangle/history

Open: 24 hours

 

Inwood Hill Park

Off Payson Avenue & Dyckman Street

New York, NY  10024

https://www.nycgovparks.org/parks/lt-wm-tighe-triangle/history

(212) 695-9675

Open: 6:00am-1:00am

 

Swindler’s Cove Park/Sherman Creek

3703 Harlem River Drive

New York, NY  10034

(212) 333-2552

Open: 8:00am-8:00pm

https://www.nyrp.org/green-spaces/park-details/sherman-creek-park/

 

Highbridge Park

New York, NY  10040

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

 

 

Day Two: Independence Day in Inwood July 4th, 2015

Taking the number One subway back uptown, I continued my travels to 215th Street station right next to the Columbia complex and sports center. My journey took me to 10th Avenue from the tip of the island to West 220th Street to West 207th Street. For you folks out there they think the island of Manhattan is completely gentrified with upscale housing and businesses, you must visit this part of Manhattan. There is hardly a Gucci store on every corner.

This has got to be the most commercial area of Manhattan I have seen so far. Home to Time Warner repair trucks, the NYC Sanitation Department, the MTA Headquarters and the Knightsbridge Terminal it made for  interesting walk. Between 9th and 10th Avenue from 218th Street to 216th Streets is the Knightsbridge Bus Terminal, which is the center of much action throughout the day.

The New York Sanitation Department is located from 216th Street to 214th Streets and it is best to avoid this area most of the day. It was quiet on the 4th of July. The only person I saw was a security guard and his dog, who was so happy to see someone he jumped up and down. When I went back to tour the area later in the month, it was a whirlwind of action with garbage trucks going in and out of buildings and the place really smelled. It is not exactly an area I would recommend to tourists unless they want to see how the city really runs.

All along 9th Avenue are places to get your car repaired and washed. At the end of every street, there is a nice view of the river but I would suggest holding your nose. From 214th Street to 207th Street, The MTA has their building behind high walls and barbed wire. 208th Street has a parking lot and a few truck vendors. Not much to see here and the operation is behind closed doors.

MTA Facility Manhattan

The MTA Facility and the New York Sanitation Department Facility take up most of the corner of this part of Manhattan

Parts of lower 10th Avenue are being gentrified as some of the former parking garages and repair shops are giving way to small more upscale restaurants. The area around the subway station at 207th Street is a bustling shopping area catering to the large Dominican population living on the Broadway side of Inwood with everyday stores, very reasonable and good restaurants specializing in Dominican and Spanish cuisine and several clothing stores. This area is slowly going through a transition as the neighborhood is starting to change to a younger, more arty crowd.

Inwood Hill Park III

 

Inwood Hill Park by 207th Street

The best part of this part of 207th Street is the local street cart vendors selling everything from Pastelitos (a kind of empanada) to fresh mango juice and shaved ice all for around a dollar. It is a nice way to have a reasonable to go meal while you are walking around. One restaurant for delicious Pastelitos is El Lina at 500 207th Street.

El Lina Restaurant

El Lina Restaurant at 500 207th Street

Their fillings are generous and the service is very friendly. It is one of the many restaurants that line the ‘restaurant mile’ on 207th Street. From the subway station to Broadway, it is interesting to look at the menus and peak in the windows of the many shops and dining establishments that line both sides of the street.

empanada stand II

El Lina’s Pastilitos are delicious

This vibrant section of the neighborhood hustled every day that I visited it and the subway stop is always busy. If you are looking for tourist spots and excitement, it’s not for you. If you want a true experience in Dominican culture and food, a trip to this part of Inwood is for you. It is not just the restaurants and shops that make the neighborhood, it is the interaction of the people in the neighborhood, the music, the conversations and debates and the overall life of the streets that make this neighborhood a neighborhood.

Places to Visit:

Inwood Hill Park

Payson & Seaman Avenues

New York, NY  10034

(212) 639-9675

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

 

Very tip of Manhattan from Dyckman Street to 220th Street

The Side Walk Shopping starts on Broadway  down 207th Street to 10th Avenue:

Don’t miss the street bazaar at 207th Street with the carts of merchandise, music and food.

 

Places to Eat:

El Lina

500 207th Street

New York, NY  10034

(212) 567-5031

Open: Sunday-Saturday 8:00am-11:30pm

My review on TripAdvisor:

 

The many street vendors along 207th Street during the week but especially on the weekends.

Days Three-Five (yes, it takes that long): Walking the Fancy Food Show at the Javis Center June 28-30, 2015

I had to take some time out from my walk to attend the Fancy Food Show at the Javits Center in mid-town Manhattan and walking the show for three days was not enough. It was three days of talking with vendors, sampling products and seeing what new developments were happening in the industry. As a college professor in a hotel school, there are three shows I have to attend for work every year, the New York Hotel/Motel Show, the New York Restaurant Show and the New York Fancy Food Show and of the three of them, this is my favorite. You get to sample food products from all over the world and get to see what new and innovative food items are being created. It is also nice to be able to support small cottage businesses starting out. Some of the best items from the show come from them.

I broke the show down in three parts, walking the show upstairs in the domestic and foreign pavilions and then downstairs where the new products area is located along with the wines and spirits and some of the foreign vendors who they did not have space for upstairs. There are a lot of exciting products that will be coming on the market soon at your local gourmet or supermarket. These are some of the samplings of the vendors to look out for. I have to say too many people are chasing after the gourmet soda, candy bar and popcorn businesses and too many are getting lost  with so-so products, bad packaging and snotty owners who will push you out of the way so that they can talk only to Whole Foods and Fresh Direct buyers. I know that they hold a lot of clout in the industry, you have to look at everyone who comes to your booth as a potential customer who can recommend your product. These were my favorite picks from the food show.

In the frozen dessert category, there are independent ice cream makers out there making small batch ice cream that would put any national brand to shame. Most of these vendors use fresh cream, sugar and fresh ingredients such as fresh fruit, tea, homemade cake mixes and chocolate. One ice cream maker that really impressed me was Tea-rrific Ice Cream who uses a an infused tea in all their flavors. The flavor that impressed me the most was their Lavender’s Blueberry, which had a richly sweet flavor of fresh cream and fresh blueberry. Made with fresh cream, organic cane sugar, a black tea infusion and a blueberry puree, this makes a delightful dessert that convert any Ben & Jerry’s lover.

Tea-riffice Ice Cream

Tea-rrific Ice Cream flavors

Another vendor who creates unusual flavors is Phin & Phebes, whose vision towards ice cream making is to make exciting flavors that are true to taste and made with real ingredients that make the best ice cream. Their flavors with names like Coconut Key Lime and Ginger Cookie Snap were impressive. My favorite was the Vanilla Cinnamon, which combined the creaminess of the vanilla infused flavor with the richness of the fresh cinnamon. The flavor combination is like eating a frozen cinnamon bun.

Phin & Pheabs Ice Cream

Phin & Phebes Ice Cream

My hands done choice as the best ice cream at the show was Grateter’s Ice Cream, which was my personal favorite last year. Made in small batches by a gentleman who has been working for the family for years. Graeter’s still uses the French Pot concept of slowly spinning the cream into ice cream without adding air which results in a dense creamy ice cream. Their ice cream is used with only the freshest ingredients and the taste can transform your mood it is that good. I think their peach ice cream is the best which they told me is only made certain times of the year when the peaches are at the peak of the season. There is a distinct difference in the flavor of fresh peach and a flavoring. This has an intense sweetness to it.

Graetners Ice Cream

Graeter’s Ice Cream is best in show!

I also give an honorable mention to Mereer’s Wine Ice Cream for a good concept for adults but any kid would love a sneak a scoop from their parents.

Of the novelty frozen desserts, three really stood out to me. Enlightened Ice Cream bars were rich and dense and I had to fight with other patrons for a taste. I was able to get one of their new flavors, the Sea Salt Caramel, which was delicious. This seems to be the ‘In’ flavor right now in ice cream making. One novelty I really enjoyed and went back for seconds was JC’s Pie Pops. These delightful treats were a cross between a cake and an ice cream pop. Different from most ice cream coatings these have a crunch to them when you bit into them and their taste is the best. I had the Caramel Apple Crumble and it tasted like a frozen apple crisp a la mode on a stick. Their distinct flavors such as S’mores, Banana Cream and Caramel Turtle are a real improvement to the standard Chocolate Éclair and Strawberry Shortcake offered by the commercial companies.

JC's Pie Pops

JC’s Pie Pops

The most unique product that is my hands down choice as best in the show the Smooze Fruit Ice in an unusual push up packaging. These delightful treats are packed in the companies farm on the Equator in East Sumatra, Indonesia. I found these in the Indonesia Pavilion while walking around. These are the perfect dessert for children who don’t like their fresh fruit. I was able to try all the combinations, the coconut and pineapple, the coconut and pink guava and the coconut and mango. It tasted like an intense frozen fruit puree and the packaging is whimsical and childlike that would attract the child in any adult. The best was the coconut and pink guava with the sweetness of the guava really standing out. The rep was nice enough to give me a sample of each and I was sample all of them later. One nice thing about them is that they do travel well.

The snack food market continues to grow in leaps and bounds at the food show and in the industry in general. The problem is that too many vendors are doing the same thing. There is only so many ways to make cheese popcorn. Yet there were many standouts at the show that were packed with flavor and crunch.

Jody’s Gourmet Popcorn was one standout in the popcorn category. I tried their caramel corn and it had the sweetest flavor as it had a proper coat of caramel on it. They do not skip on the syrup. Their Cinnamon Toast had rich flavor of French Toast and will have you grabbing a bag at breakfast. Pretzel Pete has delicious pretzel bites in Cheddar Ale and Honey Mustard that are terrific and have a great crunch to them. The Sweetery came up with a unique product with Wine Sticks as they market as ‘the biscotti for wine’. Their chocolate sticks give a distinct flavor to wine. I don’t think these will go over with purists but they can give a complexity to certain wines. 34 Sesame Crisps have a good snap and crunch to them and go good with any spreads or just on their own.

Jody's Gourmet Popcorn

Jody’s Gourmet Popcorn

Rick’s Chips is a small company that specializes in holiday chips with creative shapes that cater to holidays like Halloween, Forth of July, Easter and Christmas. The product has a sameness in flavor to the standard chip but the shapes and packaging make it the perfect present for a host or just to open and entertain your guests at a party. G..H. Cretors has the most delicious organic popcorn. Their Simply Salted was plain and simple and perfectly popped and their Just the Cheese Corn was the cheesiest and one of the best cheese popcorns in the show. Geraldine’s came up with a unique product as their potato sticks in Cheddar and Sweet Potato. Packed with flavor and a great crunch they make a great snack. State Street Snacks had hands down the best Caramel Corn at the show. With a thick coating of caramel on each kernel, it can be considered both a candy and a snack. If you like a sweet caramel corn, then State Street is for you. Sweet Corn Tortilla Chips have a great crunch and are low in sodium and GMO free.

Two stand outs from aboard that can compete with any company in the states are Sunshine Snacks from Trinidad in the West Indies. Their Cornados (which look like Bugles) and their Crispy Mix pack some serious crunch and have great flavor. Their Chipsters are very good as well. Superior Products out of Ecuador has some cookies, such as the Deli Chook and the Krispiz that have a crunchy chocolatey taste. Their Integral Salticas have a nice flavor and go good on their own or with cheese and spreads.

The two best products that I found at the food show were The Breaking Craves Lentil chips. These had the richest flavors and the best crunch to them. The aged white cheddar had me eating the whole bag in one sitting with its deep, flavorful cheddar flavor. Their Tomato basil was excellent too. This is not your standard snack as these are made with Lentil beans but you would never know it. The other stand out product was Mr. Cheese O’s, whose cheese rings have the tangiest cheese flavor and a snap to their crunch. It is like biting into a piece of crispy cheese. Made by the Sonoma Creamery Company, this cheese manufacturer found an extension to their cheese lines. Both of these companies had the stand out snacks of the show.

Beverages at the show come in all flavors, colors and packaging. There are so many artisan sodas and teas on the market that have no flavor. It has gotten to the point where many of these small cottage manufactures, in a race to be GMO and sugar free, have forgotten that customers want taste as well. I sampled so many tasteless products during the show I could not even count them in the end and had to keep a smiling face as their makers bragged that they didn’t have this or that in them. There is a reason why Coke is number one in the market.

Some of the stand outs that I sampled were MOO, Mrs. O’Leary’s Organic Chocolate Milk, which had the rich consistency of a chocolate shake. A product of New York State, this creamy product contains cane sugar and natural cocoa and would be an asset to any lunch box. IQ Juice had some interesting flavors with  Memory that features pressed apple cider and passion fruit juice and Immunity with passion fruit and organic blueberry juice. Both claim to have healthy properties to help with memory and fight infections. Sipp has a refreshing and interesting beverage made with ginger blossom that has a sweet gingery flavor and I thought would be perfect with a spicy Chinese meal. Joe Tea has some interesting tea flavors in raspberry and peach and their raspberry lemonade is terrific. La Gloria products shines with their three sodas in clementine orange, Mediterranean cola and Sicilian Lemon. These sodas are packed with flavor and the packaging in a wooden container is very clever.

Moo II

 

MOO Chocolate Milk

The foreign pavilions offered several interesting products as well. Fresh Start concentrates from Trinidad, that have a tangy and fruity flavor that when mixed with water offers a refreshing summer drink. Two standouts from the Chinese Pavilion were Amazonia beverages in orange and grape. One of the best products I tried along with MOO and La Gloria was the Honey Sun Groups Honey Sun wild Blueberry juice. The company specializes in all things blueberry and this flavorful naturally sweet drink is a real standout. Over ice or mixed with club soda this is another great summer drink.

In the prepared foods area, I tried many sauces, pastas and soups but the ones that really stood out were Stuffed Foods ravioli like the Chicken Confit filled with roasted chicken, broccoli rabe and romano cheese and their Ricotta impasata ravioli with mozzarella and pecorino cheeses. Chinese Southern Belle, a standout from last years show, offers sauces such as Wild West East, an Asian barbecue and Teriyaki sauce and You Spicy Thing, a stir-fry sauce and marinade. Blake Hill offers a line of delicious jellies in peach and ginger and raspberry and hibiscus. La Maison Gourmet Gravies were just excellent full of deep rich flavors and a great addition to any meat dish. Their Burgundy Peppercorn was the real standout.

The two entrees products that really shined were the Stratta Lorraine from Giorgio Foods Inc. with their flaky crust and dense flavorful fillings. It is a meal in itself. My top pick from the show was from the Van Cleve Seafood Company. Their Chesapeake Blue Crab Pie was the most delicious seafood product I have tasted at the show. A combination of fresh seafood, cheeses and spices in a flaky crust, the pie reminded my of our own fishing history and how it is a truly American product.  The flavor of the cheeses and spices and the sweetness of the seafood make a delicious combination. These two knockouts would be perfect at any holiday gathering.

Van Cleve Seafood Pie II

Van Cleve Seafood Pie

Like beverages, the show was loaded with new products in the candy and dessert area. Some items really stood out in this category as well. Hammond’s Candies featured brittle crisps and hard candy canes that were sweet without being overwhelming and their canes were fruity and colorful. Torie & Howard Chewie Fruities in blood orange & honey were really good, sweet and tangy at the same time. I really enjoyed Annie B’s caramels and her popcorn was delicious. With Love Chocolates were another standout. Their Choc-Aid was very unique. You could taste the real fruit in Pure Gummy jelly gummie products. The juicy peach was a sugary treat.

Anette’s Chocolates of Napa Valley has a line of Chocolate Wine and Liqueur sauces that are very good. These can turn an ordinary ice cream dessert into a showpiece. Deep and rich in flavor, the liqueur brings out the best of the chocolate. Le Belge, also out of Napa Valley were a standout with their rich and decadent chocolates, which were beautifully packaged for the perfect gift. Butternut Mountain Farms of Vermont has a tasty maple leaf that makes a nice treat in the fall.

Le Belge

Le Belge Chocolates

Two standout from abroad were  Charles Chocolates of Trinidad with their layered candy bars and  Fruity Poppers from Thailand which has their little fruit poppers known as a molecular food that you can see in many Asian drinks and desserts.

The top two standouts in the show were Sanders products of Michigan with their delicious and rich chocolate sauces and their chocolate bumpy cake with a cream topping is so dense and chocolaty and the creamy ‘bump’ topping really brings out the flavor of the chocolate. It tastes like a gourmet ‘devil-dog’. The best candy I tried at the show was Butterfields fruit hard candies. These candies, made with fresh fruit juices, were a knockout. One bite and you could taste the sugary, fruit flavors really burst of flavor as they claim. You can really taste the peach flavor in every crunchy bite. This is a candy you should seek out.

The last category of tasting I did at the show was the cookie and cracker area. There were many to choose from but the ones that I thought stood out for flavors and packaging varied by product. The Vienna Cookie Company offered delicious butter cookies with varied flavors but what made this product standout was their beautiful packaging. The boxed packaging is almost as beautiful as the cookies themselves. Wow Baking Company offers large chewy cookies that when wrapped individually offers a generous, sweet dessert. Their chocolate chip and Snickerdoodles were real standouts. Bella Lucia features pizzelle cookies that have a crisp, anise flavor to them and are a perfect light dessert after a large Italian meal. Aunt Butchie’s has cheesecake cones which are a cheesecake filled cone that are rich, sweet and crispy at the same time.

vienna cookie company

Vienna Cookie Company

The Belgian Kitchen offers a Liege Waffle made with real butter and vanilla extract that make a real breakfast treat. The dough is premade and ready to ship to make these richly sweet waffles. Rustic Bakery has a line of beautifully crafted and sweetly crunch star sprinkle cookies. Dimitria Delights baked goods offer a delicious butter stollen for the holidays accented the tastes of cinnamon and raisins. The Zesty Cookie Company has a lemon zinger cookie that is chewy and takes like a sugary lemon. Dolectini tea cookies have a delicious powdery Meyer lemon cookie that you can pop into your mouth.

The two standouts in the cookie category though were MK Patisserie’s Choux pastries and mini pound cakes baked to perfection and tasted as fresh as when they were first baked. Their rich flavors and beautiful appearance make the perfect ending to a fine meal. Viovanta Cookies from Greece has the hands down winner with their chocolate pinwheel full 45 cookies. It takes like a little lava cake when you bite into it and has a dense chocolaty flavor.

Violanta Cookies

Viovanta Cookies from Greece

After three days of sampling and snacking through the whole show, I didn’t get back to some of my favorites and barely had the chance to finish the show. These are just some of the items featured at the New York Fancy Food Show but because of their taste, unique packing and rich flavors are items to add to your household kitchen in the future. They all make entertaining so much easier.

Look for them on your next shopping trip.

Day One: My first day of the walk and the first day of the Summer: ‘Father’s Day’-Walking Marble Hill on the tip of Manhattan June 21st, 2015.

I started the first day of walking on Father’s Day, June 21, 2015. I thought it was coincidental that the first day of Summer was Father’s Day, so it made the start of my walk even more special. I would have spent this day with my dad doing something special as we always did.

So in the spirit of the day and in memory to him, I started this project, “MywalkinManhattan” exploring the island that we both loved so much. I took the number One subway uptown to Marble Hill, a section of Manhattan that is located on mainland side of the Bronx.

Marble Hill is the northern most neighborhood in Manhattan and has a very interesting history. Marble Hill has been occupied since the Dutch controlled the area. On August 18, 1646, Governor Willem Kieft, the Dutch Director of New Netherland, signed a land grant that comprised of the whole present community. The name Marble Hill was conceived when Darius C. Crosby came up with the name in 1891 from the local deposits of dolomite marble underlying it. Dolomite marble is a soft rock that crops out in the Inwood and Marble Hill communities, known as Inwood marble. This is the marble that was used for the federal buildings in lower Manhattan when New York was the capital of the United States in the 1780’s. (Wikipedia)

After an increase in ship traffic in the 1890’s, the United States Army Corps of Engineers determined that a canal was needed for a shipping route between the Hudson and Harlem rivers. In 1895, the construction of the Harlem River Shipp Channel rendered. Marble Hill became an island bounded by the canal to the south and the original course of the Harlem River to the north. The Greater New York Chapter of 1897 designated Marble Hill as part of the Borough of Manhattan.Effective January 1, 1914, by an act of the New York State Legislature Bronx County was created but Marble Hill remained as part of New York County. Later in 1914, the old river was filled in, physically connecting Marble Hill to the Bronx and the rest of North American Mainland. (Wikipedia)

So I took the subway to the Marble Hill-225 Station and started the walk. Who knew while it had been sunny and warm the whole trip into the city from New Jersey and on the trip up that the heavens would open up once I got the subway stop and I would have to run from the subway station to the River Plaza Mall which is around the corner from the subway station. I would spend a half hour at Target looking for a good map of the island. By the time I paid for it, it cleared and was still cloudy. I have to say for an city neighborhood, Marble Hill has the best of the suburbs with many chain stores and restaurants within reach of everyone in the community. There are two malls in the neighborhood, one inside and the other right around the corner from the public housing.

Marble Hill VI.jpg

I walked Exterior Street first, which is where the Marble Hill Houses are located. Not much to report but the street could use a good weed wacking. It was so over-grown that you have to walk in the street. The housing in this area is pretty standard with a large complex of buildings with a common yard and playground with benches. Because of the weather, there weren’t many people outside or on the streets.

Once you cross Broadway, you have an array of unique turn of the last century homes mixed in with low pre-war apartment buildings. The Victorian style homes that line Jacobus Street and Fort Charles Street have true character and beautiful urban landscaping for the space the homes have for yards. There are all sorts of secret doors and terraces that you can only see from the street and there was a lot of pride in this neighborhood.

Marble Hill VII

Marble Hill Homes are quite unique

From the core of Marble Hill, you would never know that you were in the city. It is good to take time to walk these small streets, especially on a nice day to enjoy flowers and plantings from the sidewalks. Even by the Marble Hill Houses, someone joined in and planted a vegetable garden on raised beds by Broadway. By the middle of the summer, this will be filled with fruits and vegetables to the residents that planted it.

Broadway is the commercial strip on both sides of Marble Hill that continues around the corner of 225 Street by the subway station entrance. For a quick snack, bypass the traditional fast food places in the neighborhood and stop by Taveras Food Center at 5193 Broadway for their Pastelitos (a type of Cuban Pastry similar to empanada). They make them in both chicken and beef and at a $1.00 they make a nice quick meal while walking around.

empanada stand II.jpg

Fresh Pastilitos at Taveras Food Center

Walk around the corner with these treats and admire the view of the river at 225th Street or the quirky street paintings by the downtown subway entrance. Even though some people might consider this a nuisance, if you have seen the recent prices for urban art, it might be easier to pull down the wall and bring it to market. You never know when one of these ‘taggers’ may become famous.

Walking down Broadway from Taveras, stop at Rosarina Bakery at 5219 Broadway for a doughnut. Their thickly iced doughnuts are a real treat for a $1.00 and they have a nice selection of other pastries as well. There are all sorts of small businesses along Broadway that cater to the residents of Marble Hill, so take time to explore some of these shops.

Marble Hill V

Rosarino Bakery in the strip of stores by Broadway

Marble Hill can be walked in a few hours but take time to stroll along the winding streets of the middle of the neighborhood and admire the homes and gardens and take time to walk along the river on 225th Street before taking the subway back to where you are going. The hills and parks are very pretty as the sun goes down.

Happy Father’s Day, Dad with all the love a son could send you!

To get there: take the Number One subway to Marble Hill (you can walk the whole neighborhood in two hours)

 

Places to eat:

Rosarino Bakery

5219 Broadway

New York, NY  10034

(718) 367-2271

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g47369-d18147295-Reviews-Rosarino_Bakery-Bronx_New_York.html?m=19905

 

Taveras Food Center

5193 Broadway

New York, NY  10034

(718) 933-2346

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d18151210-Reviews-Taveras_Food_Center-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

 

Things to see:

Walk along the winding streets in the middle of the neighborhood along Jacobus, Charles Place and Adrian Avenue to see the unique architecture.

Walk along the Harlem River to see the sunset.