Tag Archives: Walk Manhattan

Day One Hundred & Twenty Five: Walking the Streets of the lower part of the Upper West Side West 72nd Street to West 59th Street October 15th-December 3rd, 2018

It took a long time to finish the Upper West Side with classes and work going on and the beginning of the holiday season. I started walking the streets between West 59th Street in early October when the weather was still warm and the trees were still green then somehow along the way the leaves turned a golden brown and I started to see cobwebs and pumpkins all over the place. By the time I was finished, these would be replaced by garland, holly, wreathes and pine trees. I had never seen a neighborhood transform so fast or was it just me revisiting so many times over the period of three months. The holidays just creeped up on me and then overwhelmed me.

The lower part of the Upper West Side is much different from the rest of this side of town. As noted in earlier blogs of the neighborhood, pretty much everything below West 69th Street was leveled to make way for the Lincoln Center complex and only buildings around Central Park West, historic churches and some pre-war ‘gems’ survived the wrecking ball. Everything east of Broadway seemed to survive the wrecking ball but that has continued to change.

This ‘clearance’ made way for the performing arts center, many branches of college campuses, a hospital, new residential housing and new schools. There are very few traces of the old neighborhood once you cross West 70th Street until you get to about West 58th Street where some of the older buildings survived. If it did not have historic value or a certain charm, it got knocked down in the way of progress.

The charm of the neighborhood continued from West 72nd Street to West 70th Street. These was the edges of the old Upper West Side that had survived the 60’s wrecking ball.  West 72nd Street to me still represents the old New York with stores catering to the neighborhood residents and not to tourists. They are stores and restaurants for New Yorkers not New York places for tourists looking for a New York experience like walking around Times Square.

I started walking the streets of the Upper West Side from West 72nd Street to West 59th Street in early October and finishing a section here and a section there finishing closer to Thanksgiving. It was so weird to start this part of the walk when the trees still had green leaves on them to seeing Christmas decorations on the brownstone homes. Between work and the beginnings of the holidays and my hectic schedule it took a long time to see all the streets in the detail I wanted.

In the few months that I had been walking around, West 72nd Street has really started to change. I starting seeing a lot more scaffolding on the street and more restaurants opening and closing. I could not keep up the pace of the changes. Many older businesses started to close up shop due to the rent increases. All over the City rents that must have been negotiated in the mid to late 90’s were now coming due and business owners just can’t pay some of these rents. I am seeing more and more empty store fronts or restaurants replacing them with $20.00 hamburgers and $25.00 pasta dishes which are over-priced to the average person.

West 72nd Street is still worth the visit as they are many shops and restaurants that reasonably priced and are patronized by the neighborhood residents. There are many places that I like to revisit whenever I am in the neighborhood. As you round the corner onto West 72nd Street from Central Park West, you are greeted by the anchor of the neighborhood, the Dakota Apartments at 1 West 72nd Street, the famous home of John Lennon. During my time on the walk, there had been a memorial in the park on the date of his passing and many people were trying to take pictures there but the doorman are shooing people away. This is the private home to many people.

Walking down West 72nd is an array of well maintained apartment buildings and Coops but here and there on the street, there are still some pockets where you will find a brownstone here or there tucked into some corner of the street or look at the stone work on a apartment building.

Walking down West 72nd Street is a treasure trove of wonderful restaurants, interesting shops and historical architecture. It’s not just the Dakota and Olcott Apartments that are interesting. When looking up you notice so much. As you walk past the famous apartment buildings of Central Park West past Columbus Avenue, you pass an avenue of ever changing bars, restaurants and shops that continue to surprise residents and tourists alike.

One restaurant/bar I enjoy visiting is Malachy’s Donegal Inn at 103 West 72nd Street (See my reviews on TripAdvisor and Diningonashoestringinnyc@wordpress.com) just past Columbus Avenue. The bar has been there for years and a neighborhood staple for locals in the neighborhood. I had eaten here many times and I always felt like I was being watched, like people at the bar were trying to figure out whether I lived there or not. The food is really good. Their burgers, chicken fingers and hot turkey sandwiches ($8.95 each) are generous in size and their prices for food and drinks is very reasonable.It is a great place to sit back and talk to strangers about just about anything.

Malachy's.jpg

Just past Malachy’s is an unassuming store, Stationary & Toy World at 125 West 72nd Street (See my blog ‘LittleShoponMainStreet@wordpress.com) for a great selection of office supplies and toys for all ages.

stationary and toy world.jpg

Stationary & Toy World

The aisles are stacked top to bottom with popular games, crafts and building blocks while others with hard to find office supplies. Why order on Amazon when you can walk out your door and talk to people in the store who know their merchandise? It’s a throwback to a store in the 70’s that had it all. The people who work there are really nice and will help you find anything.

Verdi Square, part of the once infamous ‘Needle Park’ of the 70’s when this area got very run down has become a cornerstone of the this part of the neighborhood. There is no ‘Needle Park’ here anymore with fancy coffee vendors and musicians playing the park on a warm day. The park has been landscaped with flowers blooming each season and is a nice place to just relax and talk before taking the busy subway up or downtown.

What the neighborhood used to look like in the early 70’s

Just to tell you how much the neighborhood has changed there is a very popular Bloomingdale’s Outlet Store at 2085 Broadway with loads of merchandise from the popular chain and a 40 Carrots yogurt shop upstairs. You can get lost in the racks of clothing.

Just past Bloomingdale’s at 233 West 72nd Street is Westsider Records, another 70’s looking store for vinyl records and used books. If you are looking for the hard to find classics or for book or record that your mother threw out years ago, this is the store to start in. There is a wide variety of records here including original cast albums from musicals that I have not seen in years.

As you head down West 72nd Street, take a stop before arriving at West End Avenue and admire what is left of the old mansions that still peak out here and there on the street especially towards the very bottom of Riverside Park, when the neighborhood was an exclusive address. At the end of the block is Riverside Drive and the bottom of Riverside Park.

Across the street under all that scaffolding is The Chadsworth Apartment House that was designed in the late 1800’s (See Day One Hundred & Eight of MywalkinManhattan for full history of the apartment houses on West 72nd Street). Under all that piping if you look close, you can see the beauty and the detail work of the stone carvers. It will be something when the renovation is finished.

The Chadworth

The beauty of The Chadsworth with the lower part of Riverside Park

Before crossing back, take a look at the Eleanor Roosevelt Monument at the corner of Riverside Drive and West 72nd Street. The statue is dedicated to the former First Lady and is a nice place to sit and relax on a warm day. I have seen this part of the park in all seasons since starting to walk this part of the neighborhood and the Spring is best when the first set of flowers starts to peek out.

Walking back down West 72nd Street on the other side of the road is West Side Cafe at 218 West 72nd Street, my go to place in the neighborhood for reasonable meals and snacks (See my TripAdvisor reviews and review on DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com). How I found this restaurant/deli was the sign that they had on the street with the prices of their meals and went in immediately for their pizza lunch special ($5.00). The pizza there is amazing as is all of their food and seems to be the place all the cabbies and doormen eat at as well. Large portions of well made food at a reasonable price.

If you are still hungry from all the walking, another place I like to stop for a snack is Gray’s Papaya at 2090 Broadway right across from the subway station. Their hot dogs are the best and since they are grilled, they snap when you bit into them (See review on TripAdvisor and DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com).

The one thing I like about West 72nd Street on the West Side is that there is something for everyone from the fancy dining establishments heading toward Central Park West to the more reasonable hole in the wall restaurants that dot the street and those hidden stores stacked high with merchandise, this street was created for the New York customer and has not given into the tourists yet.

Rounding the corner of Central Park West, this trip around the neighborhood took so much time that I saw the four seasons occur in the park. Fall is most distinct with the colorful leaves with a touch of still warm weather. Morning or night, the park is always busy.

West 71st Street has a more residential feel to it and between the park and Broadway is lined with impressive brownstones and apartment buildings. Facing Central Park is the Majestic Apartments, which opened right before the stock market crash of 1929. The apartment building is an interesting example of Modern American Art Deco architecture and was considered quite innovative when it opened. The building was built by the firm of Chanin Construction Company by Irwin Chanin (StreetEasy 2019).

Take time to look at the buildings design from the other side of Central Park West. Its elegant design is in contrast to the more Victorian look of the Dakota right across the street. Just don’t stare too long or the building doormen will give you a funny look.

dakota.jpg

The Dakota Apartments

The beautiful row of brownstones and small apartment buildings on West 71st Street were decorated at all times of the holiday season. When I started the walk in early October with the leaves still green on the trees, people were preparing for the Halloween and the coming of the Fall. As I finished the walk, many people were putting up trees, garland and lights. With the care of these brownstones and their decorations, especially at night, made it look like a true neighborhood.

Further down West 71st Street is the Church of the Blessed Sacrament at 152 West 71st Street which was built in 1917. The first church was built in 1887 near West 72nd Street and the second church was built in 1900 on the site of the current church. This church was built by architect Gustav Steinbach, a Columbia graduate, who modeled it after a much smaller 14th century French Gothic Sainte Chapelle in Parish (Church History).

The church has a very engaging sermon and mass and if you are in the area during that time, take the time out to stay and enjoy it. It was a small crowd that afternoon that I was there but I only stayed for a short period of time. It would be nice to hear the whole mass sometime.

Once you reach Sherman Square, you will see the artist Kathy Ruttenberg’s statue, ‘In Sync’ which is part of her open air exhibition with the NYC Arts, ‘In Dreams Awake: Kathy Ruttenberg on Broadway exhibition (one of her other statues, ‘All the World’s a Stage’ is located in the neighborhood on West 64th near Lincoln Center). Take time to look at this interesting twist of nature by the Woodstock, NY based artist. She has four other statues up and down Broadway which means revisited the Upper West Side above West 84th Street.

In Sync

‘In Sync’ By Kathy Ruttenberg

kathy ruttenberg II

“All the World’s a Stage” by Kathy Ruttenberg

I have to say one thing is that she is very creative and looks at nature and art in an extremely unusual fashion. Her work takes on a different meaning showing nature in human form. The funny part is that the whole time I was looking over the statue everyone else just bumped into me passing it. No one stopped to look at the deer-man and tree walking in tandem like it was something you saw every day in New York City.

Two of my favorite and reasonable places to eat in this part of the Upper West Side are located right across the street on Broadway. The McDonald’s at 2049 Broadway and Little Italy Pizza at 2047 Broadway (see reviews on TripAdvisor and DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@wordpress.com).

The McDonald’s is one of the better ones in the City for food quality and cleanliness. I have many lunches and dinners here and it is fun to order a Sausage McMuffin and Egg and a cheeseburger at 9:00pm. When the weather was really hot at the beginning walk of this neighborhood I came here for one of their frozen lemonades.

Little Italy Pizza is one of the best places for slices in the City as their pizza actually has some flavor to it. When you have a slice ($2.95) here it is a decent sized piece of pizza and the sauce is nicely spiced. Their calzones are excellent ($6.50). They are almost the size of a small pizza and are loaded with ricotta and mozzarella cheese. Their marinara sauce is delicious and well spiced. If you have one for lunch, you will need no dinner. The service here is quick and the pizza makers are in a rush all the time so take your order and wait to be called.

As you continue down West 71st Street towards West End Avenue, there is a little slice of oasis in Septuagesimo Uno Park between Broadway and West End Avenue. The park was created in 1969 as part of Mayor Wagner’s ‘Vest Park Program’ to take vacant lots in neighborhoods at the time and turn them into a ‘small oasis’ for the neighborhood. The park was part of an effort between the Mayor, the NYC Parks and neighborhood groups who wanted to beautify the neighborhood. It is beautifully landscaped and in season you can see the flowers and scrubs in  full bloom. The only problem that I found with visiting the park is that the gate is always locked. Every time I wanted to visit, there was no one there.

As you walk to the end of the block, you will see the transition in the street from where it used to stop at the back of the Chadsworth Apartments and the new Heritage at Trump Place Apartment Building. This leads back to the extension of West 72nd Street and the new Riverside Boulevard. This is where you see old and new mix in both architecture and parks. When you reach Riverside Boulevard you will see all the new buildings that I described when walking the Avenues. It shows the ingenuity of the city planners of reclaiming land and redesigning the City into the 21st Century.

As you head back down West 71st Street, really look up and admire some of the architecture and details on the buildings along the street. Once you pass West End Avenue, look at the details of 260-266 West 71st Street with their large staircases and the elegance of the clean lines on these brownstones. These brownstones were built in 1899 and were to have a look ‘different from one another’ (NY Times Real Estate). 269 West 71st Street

269 West 71st Street

Lots of care has been taken to restore them to their glory and when the weather was warmer, were decorated outside with potted plants.

Move on to the brownstones from 248-250 West 71st Street that are across the street to see their details. These were build in 1892 and look up to see the weird faces staring back at you. Further down the street, sitting like a Grand Dame of the neighborhood and not part of the Moses chopping block is The Dorilton Apartments at 171 West 71st Street that were built in 1902. These were built at a time architects were trying to lure people off Fifth Avenue and onto Broadway which was modeled after a French Boulevard.

Dorlitan Apartment

The Dorilton Apartments

Heading back to Central Park West is the brownstones of 35-39 West 71st Street with their elegant staircases, curved windows and their lion keystones staring back at you. These brownstones were built in 1900 and show a grace and elegance  of ‘Old New York’.

35 West 71st Street

35-39 West 71st Street

I found West 71st Street  offers a lot in beautiful small parks, gorgeous architecture, wonderful restaurants and interesting shops. The people here must really love it.

I rounded Central Park West again looking at the Central Park as it transitioned seasons during the walk and walked onto West 70th Street.  This is where the neighborhood starts to change. Up to Columbus Avenue, you see the older part of the neighborhood that survived the wrecking ball and past Broadway is all new construction.

I traveled down West 70th Street to Riverside Boulevard and it is amazing how in just one block a neighborhood can change. You see how ‘urban renewal’ can change the character of a neighborhood.

Still there is a beauty to many buildings on the block. It may not have all the charismatic brownstones as West 71st Street but still here and there are buildings that stand out and you take notice of when walking around. At 135 West 70th Street there is a building that has an Egyptian style motif that decorates the entire frontage.

The Pythian was designed by architect Thomas Lamb and was built in 1926 for the Knights of the Pythians, who were a fraternal order founded in 1864. The building was constructed of buff brick and terra cotta. The outside decorations of the building are designed in ‘Egyptian Revival Art Deco’ and are some of the best examples of the use of polycrome terra cotta in the City. The building was converted to condos in 1983. Really look up and admire the details of ancient Gods and Goddesses, mythical animals and artwork that looks like the outside of an ancient temple. Admire the orb that sits atop the entrance with the Goddess Isis stand guard (StreetScapes & Wiki).

The Pythian

The Pythian at 135 West 70th Street

I stopped by P.S. 199 as they were letting out of school and it was sea of children and parents for the next hour. Next to the school is Matthew P. Sapolin Park, which is a great place to visit on a hot day. There are really nice public bathrooms that come in handy after a long walk and benches under shade trees to relax on. The parents are so busy watching their kids and the other parents no one noticed me walk in the many times I visited here. This was my go to place for the bathroom and to relax when walking this section of the neighborhood and they keep the park up really nicely.

The former Playground 70 was renamed in 2011 to Matthew P. Sapolin Park after the former Commission of the Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities, who died of cancer in 2011. The park is fitted for children with disabilities with a children’s garden, a basketball court with backstops for children in wheel chairs and picnic table seating low enough to allow for disability access (NYCParks.com).

Matthew P. Sapolin has a very interesting life before dying at age 41. He had been mainstreamed in school on Long Island, was a drummer in a band he formed and the Co-Captain of his wrestling team at NYU. Many people had commented that he was an inspiration for many people who never let a disability define them and it is fitting that such a park available to so many be named after him (NY Obituary).

Walking back from a relaxing break at the park, I walked back to towards Central Park West. Tucked away near Columbus Avenue is an interesting little antique jewelry store called Icon Style by Lara Kornbluh at 104 West 70th Street (See review on LittleShoponMainStreet@Wordpress.com). Do not miss this interesting little shop refitted in a turn of the last century pharmacy, if you like vintage and antique fine and costume jewelry.

It has some of the most unusual pieces in the shapes of animals and sunburst. I got to meet the owner, artist Lara Kornbluh, whose work had been shown in galleries in the 90’s. She had gotten interested in jewelry as a side business while working as an artist to make extra money. Her creativity as an artist shows in the one of kind selections she has bought for the store. No two pieces look alike. For jewelry lovers, it should not be missed.

Icon Style by Lara Kornbluh

Icon by Lara Kronbluh

After a long day in Soup Kitchen and walking all of West 72nd to West 70th Streets and rounding onto West 69th Street, I had had it. I wanted to relax and decided to end this part of the evening at the New York Historical Society at 170 Central Park West. I had not visited the museum in a long time and wanted to look around some of the exhibitions. What is nice about the museum is that on a Friday night it is ‘pay what you want’ and since I was broke, I just paid $5.00.

It was an busy evening for the museum with the ‘Harry Potter’ exhibition going on. I bypassed that and went upstairs to see the ‘Billy Jean King’ exhibition on her career as a tennis player, philanthropist and activist. I also got to see the permanent collection of objects in the collection. What was nice about that was I had the galleries pretty much to myself. I stayed until the museum closed at 8:00pm. I stopped for a quick snack on Broadway and then headed home. There would be more to see for another day.

My next trip to the neighborhood started at the Soup Kitchen again. Why I exhaust myself and walk the rest of the afternoon amazes even me. I have no idea where I get my energy from. I worked the busy bread station and after my four hour shift was over, I walked from 28th and Ninth Avenue to Harriet’s Kitchen (see review on TripAdvisor) at 502 Amsterdam Avenue, a small southern hole in the wall restaurant for lunch.

I had visited Harriet’s before and wanted to try more entrees on their menu.  I had a chicken pot pie with mashed potatoes for lunch ($12.95 plus $4.95 for the potatoes and gravy) which was the perfect lunch on a cool day and the calories would support an afternoon of walking around the neighborhood. Don’t miss this rich gravy loaded pie loaded with fresh white chicken.

After a full lunch, I walked down Central Park West tracing the park side. I really looked at the park as the joggers and walkers entered and wondered when I missed the leaves changing colors. It was the middle of October and the pumpkin decorations and mums started to appear on steps and porches of the brownstone blocks of the Upper West Side.

As I walked onto West 69th Street, I was greeted by a juxtaposed of brownstone and small apartment  house styles between Central Park West and Columbus Avenue. The shopping area around Columbus Avenue has not changed much over the years but the stores are constantly in transition. In the three months that I visited and walked the neighborhood I had never seen so many restaurants change hands and even watched a few open and close while I was there. The rents must be skyrocketing in the neighborhood as the twenty and ten year leases that were negotiated after the last recession have given way to market rates. Again, I don’t think the Upper West Side needs another restaurant that serves a $20.00 hamburger.

One of the most beautiful and quintessential blocks of the neighborhood is West 69th Street from Columbus to Amsterdam Avenues. This row of brownstones on both sides is met in the middle by Christ & St. Stephens Church at 120 West 69th Street. This cute little church has a garden just a few steps up from the side walk with benches to relax on. When I was visited earlier in the month, I just saw the last of the flowers in bloom and the leaves change colors. The brownstones across the street were decorated with colorful pumpkins and potted plants and the whole effect was out of a movie. It is what you would think all of New York City should look like or probably did at one time.

129-135 W69th

129-135 West 69th Street

Take time to admire the brownstones from at 129-135 West 69th Street with the unique carvings, beautiful details and their curving stairs. Decorated for both Halloween and Christmas when I walked the neighborhood, this is truly picturesque.

Once you cross Broadway, you see where the changes of the 60’s come in and the neighborhood has given way to modern construction. Between Amsterdam and Broadway you will begin to see the final buildings as part of the Lincoln Center complex of buildings of schools, theaters and offices which leads to the modern apartment complex of Lincoln Towers that continues from West 69th Street to West 66th Street. They are not so keen about letting people walk around the grounds so I snuck in carefully and did not walk around where I wasn’t supposed.

Along West End Avenue to Freedom Place is the same. Lincoln Towers, a modern apartment complex stretches from West 70th Street to West 66th and there are guards all over the place at each entrance to the complex. It is mostly paths leading the the apartments. Between Freedom Place and Riverside Boulevard are all the sparkling new apartment buildings that line the extension of Riverside Park. This new modern look to the city stretches on the West Side from West 70th Street to West 59th where some new buildings are behind fencing waiting to appear this Summer.

Riverside Park South

The is the Riverside Park skyline

So to complete this part of the walk and it was such a nice day when I did it, I made a right turn up Amsterdam Avenue from West 69th Street and walked up to West 70th Street and walked the entire length around the Lincoln Towers Complex to West 66th Street and then back to see some of the garden and paths of the complex that I could see with the guards looking me over and then back around.

When I finished that, I made the turn once I returned to West 66th Street and West End Avenue and walked to Riverside Boulevard and re-walked all the side streets between West 66th to West 70th Streets between the park and Freedom Place and looked at all the new construction again. This part of the neighborhood is dissected from the rest of the Upper West Side and is almost its own self-contained neighborhood similar to Battery Park City. It has its own shops, stores and schools. It faces a beautiful sparkling new park where the sod had just been laid that Summer and it was in full use when I was there (See Days One Hundred and Twenty One and Two).

I crossed back over the street at West 70th and continued to walk down past this extensive neighborhood and in the corner of Freedom Place and West 70th Street saw the Freedom Place marker from the Freedom Summer of June 21, 1964 when volunteers went to Mississippi to register Black voters. The plaque was dedicated to the three volunteers who were killed, Andrew Goodman, Michael Schwerner and James Chaney. They had been ambushed and killed that evening. A very somber plaque for such an interesting block of luxury housing.

I made the turn again and back down the other side of West 69th I went. Once you past Broadway, you pass from new to old again and it is the other side of the brownstone row until you get to Central Park West. When you turn the corner again at West 68th Street, you are pretty much looking at what is left of the old Upper West Side between Central Park West and Columbus Avenue. After that the rest of the neighborhood is new construction especially around the boundaries of Broadway which is loaded with chain businesses.

West 67th Street is almost the same as the area contains many new buildings between Central Park West and Columbus Avenue. Here you start to see more of the buildings that are part of Lincoln Center just to the south or are part of the commercial district that has developed over the last twenty five years. When you turn the corner again from Central Park West to West 66th Street, you see the neighborhood streetscape change again with differences in the buildings from Central Park to Riverside Park.

West 66th Street takes you right back over to Riverside Park and then back to Central Park as I stopped in the park to relax. It has a wonderful view of New Jersey of the cliffs facing the Hudson River. On a warm Summer day you have a choice of things to do in the park, admiring the artwork, walking, jogging or just lying by the grass.

A tiny triangle of grass greets you right across the street from Lincoln Center in the former Empire North Park now dubbed “Richard Tucker Park”.  This little park like its counterpart Verdi Square further uptown not only serves as a subway entrance but in the warmer months has a very popular Farmers Market, waffle stand and bookseller. Its a pleasant park to sit in the Summer and watch the world go by.

Richard Tucker had started off as a Cantor who in 1945 made his operatic debut with the Metropolitan Opera, where he stayed on with the company until his passing in 1975. The bust of him by artist Milton Hebald that graces the park was donated to the park system by his wife, Sarah, in 1975.

West 65th Street brings you to the heart of Lincoln Center. This is also where the neighborhood has its extremes. On one side of Amsterdam Avenue is Lincoln Center and on the other is the Amsterdam Houses. Still the neighborhood houses some of the best schools in the country. Julliard is housed between Broadway and Amsterdam Avenue as well as the Fiorella H. La Guardia School of the Performing Arts, two of the nation’s finest performing arts schools in the US.

Making the rounds back to Central Park and back in to the heart of the neighborhood, you will walk through Lincoln Center with all it’s beauty and glory. It really is a stellar site with its fountains and walkways and art. In the evening after a performance, I have always enjoyed just sitting by the fountain in the middle of the theaters and just watched people walk by either afternoons or evenings. It brings back many memories of performances past.

The Lincoln Center complex stretches from West 65th to West 62nd Streets from Columbus to Amsterdam Avenue so it takes some time to walk the whole complex and admire the gardens and statuary.

I had an interesting walk behind Lincoln Center once I crossed Amsterdam Avenue into the Amsterdam Houses, which are currently under scaffolding and being renovated. The Amsterdam Houses stretch from West 64th to West 61st from Amsterdam to West End Avenues. It is an interesting set of paths to walk through all the scaffolding. With my progressive glasses and dark jacket,  I made most of the construction guys and residents a little nervous. I had a glass thrown from a third floor window at me, security guards look the other direction when I walked by and watched a few construction guys get nervous. It just seems out of the place with the rest of the neighborhood.

One bright spot of the complex is the Samuel N. Bennerson 2nd Playground located toward the back of the complex which has recently been renovated. It has new swings and a plastic climbing complex. The few afternoons that I entered the park, the kids seemed well-behaved  but there were a lot of adults there talking.

Samuel N. Bennerson 2nd was a local resident and activist, who was a third generation member of the ‘San Juan Hill’ community who served as a mentor to children in the neighborhood and a sports coach.

I continued by walk down West 64th Street and walk all around the Amsterdam Housing Complex which made me very popular with the construction crew who seemed to step of the pace everytime they saw me walking through taking notes. I walked down and around West 61st Street and covered all the area from West 59th Street to West 64th Street from Riverside Boulevard to Amsterdam Avenue. Amsterdam Houses are really an island on to themselves with the Lincoln Center complex to the east and the luxury apartments by Riverside Park South to the west.

As you head around West 59th and 60th Streets past Amsterdam Avenue you will see the John Jay College and Fordham College campuses just south of Lincoln Center. These and Mt. Sinai Hospital pretty dominate the very bottom of the Upper West Side.

There are two stand out buildings that you should not miss admiring on West 59th Street, the IRT Powerhouse between West End Avenue and the Henry Hudson Parkway and West 59th and 58th Streets. This historic building was built in 1904 by architect Stanford White for the Interborough Rapid Transit Company and is designed in ‘Renaissance Revival’ and was part of the City Beautiful Movement (Wiki). Note all the beautiful carvings and decor at the sides of the building.

irt building

IRT Building on West 59th Street

The other building not to miss is the Williams J. Syms Operating Theater at 338 West 59th Street right behind the Time-Warner Complex. It was built in 1892 as a medical hospital and is the last remaining piece of the old Roosevelt Hospital. Made with marble and mosaic floors as not to harbor bacteria, it was considered state of the art when it opened. It is now being renovated for a school.

William Syms Theater

William J. Syms Medical Theater

From West 59th Street, I walked around the back of the Columbus Circle complex and walked up Columbus Avenue back to West 64th Street and continued the walk back to Central Park West. Here you see the sparkling new Time-Warner complex with its luxury stores, hotels and restaurants. This has set the tone for the transformation of the Upper West Side.

Making the walk back onto West 63rd Street, I walked again through the Lincoln Center Complex again and then through the Amsterdam Houses again just to rile the builders who by this point just ignored me.  Towards the end of the block between West 63rd and 64th Streets and West End Avenue and Freedom Place there is another really nice park to relax in that does not have a formal name by the Parks system. It has a nice playground in the front and paths with benches to the back which is the perfect place to relax on a hot day. This park is always busy with kids.

Walking back to the commercial district of Columbus Avenue and right across from Lincoln Center is Dante Park, which in the summer is busy with vendors and book sellers and at the holidays has the most beautiful Christmas tree with an even nicer holiday event. Dante Park was originally part of Empire Park to the north but was renamed in 1921 for the Italian poet Dante Alighieri. There is a statue of him facing the park by artist Ettore Ximemes (Wiki).

Dante Park Christmas tree

Dante Park at Christmas

When walking back to West 63rd to Central Park and then back to Columbus Avenue the areas between West 62nd, 61st and 60th Streets are lined with commercial buildings, hotels and apartment buildings. The Empire Hotel which faces Dante Park and is always busy on theater night in its restaurants was built in 1923 by owner Herbert DePuy.

The last part of my walk that evening was exploring the artwork at Lincoln Center. As I looked over the signs for upcoming shows and watched the holiday decorations being placed on the inside of the opera house, I admired pieces of art tucked here and there in the complex. There was artist Henry Moore’s ‘Working Model for Reclining Figure’ in one part and Alexander Caulder’s “Le Guichet” that stand out. In all my times at the theater, I never noticed these two pieces of outdoor art. Taking time to walk around and needing to sit down you do notice them.

Henry Moore Art

Henry Moore’s “Working Model for Reclining Figure” at Lincoln Center

Henry Moore was a English artist who had graduated from the Royal College of Art in London and Leeds School of Art. He was known for his semi-abstract figures and his work in bronze. This work, “Working for Reclining Figure” was installed in 1965 and has been thought to be human figure in a reclining state.  One piece represents that head and the torso and the other the figures legs. You really have to walk around the piece to figure it out (Wiki).

Le Guichet II

 

Alexander Calder’s “Le Guichet”

Alexander Calder is an American artist who graduated from the Stephens Institute of Technology. He was known for his abstract mobiles with some known of the themes of the cosmos and nature (Wiki). The work, “Le Guichet” (the ticket window) was installed in Lincoln Center in 1963. Some say it represents a irregularly shaped hand reaching through a window.

My last night walking the streets of the Upper West Side was also the beginning of the holiday season. It had been a long day at the Soup Kitchen working the Social Services area and I just wanted to get out of there.

I walked back up Columbus Avenue to look at the store windows and took a short cut through West 69th Street between Columbus and Broadway again to look at all the lights along the brownstones again. People really decorated their homes with lights, garlands and trees. At nightfall, this is what New York is all about. The simple decorations that make the City so special.

I ended my evening with dinner at the West Side Cafe again at 218 West 72nd Street. I just needed a couple of slices of pizza and remembered how much I enjoyed it. I am beginning to feel like a regular here.

So here on the Upper West Side is a wonderful mixture of architecture, unusual art by interesting artists, great hole in the wall restaurants and a great mix of retail. Here and there a real ‘gem’ pops out but at the end of the day it is a great neighborhood to take a long walk in.

Merry Christmas everyone!

 

Places to Visit:

The Dakota Apartments

1 West 72nd Street

New York, NY  10023

Church of the Blessed Sacrament

152 West 71st Street

New York, NY 10023

Places to Eat:

Malachy’s Donegal Inn

103 West 72nd Street

New York, NY  10023

(212) 874-4268

TripAdvisor Review:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d527768-Reviews-Malachy_s_Donegal_Inn-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@worpress.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/diningonashoestringinnyc.wordpress.com/683

McDonald’s

2049 Broadway

New York, NY  10023

(212) 724-0435

Open: 24 hours

http://www.mcdonalds.com

Review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d5101346-Reviews-McDonald_s-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

Review Diningonashoestringinnyc@wordpress.com:

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

Little Italy Pizza

2047 Broadway

New York, NY 10023

http://www.lipizzany.com/

Review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d3609300-Reviews-Little_Italy_Pizza-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com review:

https://wordpress.com/post/diningonashoestringinnyc.wordpress.com/898

Gray’s Papaya

2090 Broadway

New York, NY  10023

(212) 799-0243

https://grayspapayanyc.com/

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d423624-Reviews-Gray_s_Papaya-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

My review on DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com

https://wordpress.com/post/diningonashoestringinnyc.wordpress.com/603

West Side Cafe

218 West 72nd Street

New York, NY  10023

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d4959470-Reviews-West_Side_Cafe-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

My review on DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/diningonashoestringinnyc.wordpress.com/599

Harriet’s Kitchen

502 Amsterdam Avenue

(212) 721-0045

http://www.harrietskitchen.com

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d4657943-Reviews-Harriet_s_Kitchen-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

Places to Shop:

Bloomingdale’s Outlet Store

2085 Broadway

New York, NY 10023

(212) 634-3190

http://www.bloomingdales.com

Stationary & Toy World

125 West 72nd Street

(212) 580-3922

http://stationeryandtoy.com/shop/

My review on LittleShoponMainStreet@Wordpress.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/littleshoponmainstreet.wordpress.com/200

Westsider Records

233 West 72nd Street

New York, NY  10023

(212) 874-1588

http://westsiderbooks.com/recordstore.html

Open: Sunday 12:00pm-6:00pm/Monday-Thursday 11:00am-7:00pm/Friday & Saturday 11:00am-9:00pm.

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Day One Hundred and Thirty One: Meeting Staten Island Chuck at the Staten Island Zoo on Groundhog’s Day, February 2, 2019

I had planned to go out to Punxsutawney, PA again for Groundhog’s Day but the weather really turned this year. There was an Arctic Vortex (or whatever they are calling it this week) and the weather plunged in Pennsylvania. It was going to be 20 degrees on Groundhog’s Day (that meant 0 degrees that night) and raining when I would drive home on Sunday and I thought that would be over doing it for me.

I later saw that it did go up to 38 degrees that day in Punxsutawney, higher than expected but the overnight Friday night into Saturday was 4 degrees and sorry but the thought of standing in Gobbler’s Knob for five and a half hours in that weather was too much. I did that in 2016 in 30 degrees and that was bad enough. I will wait until next year.

I then remembered that we have our own Groundhog Festival here in the New York City area at the Staten Island Zoo with ‘Groundhog Chuck’, an event I had heard of in the past. So when I knew that driving to PA was out (I was assisting with the Hasbrouck Heights Fire Department at the Marcel Paper Factory fire on Wednesday night January 30th, 2019-See The Brothers of Engine One Blog site on WordPress.com that I write), I went online and looked at the festival that they had at the Staten Island Zoo.

So on a cold morning, I got up at 3:30am in the morning to get ready to go to Staten Island. It was not too much better on an early Saturday morning here as well. It was 19 degrees (versus 4 in PA) in Staten Island but off I drove into the darkness. The trip to the Staten Island Zoo was not that bad. I got to the zoo in forty minutes and there was plenty of parking. I guess not as many people had the same idea that I had. There were only about six other cars in the lot when I arrived.

A group of about ten of us were waiting outside the back gate when someone finally came to the gate and told us we were at the wrong gate. It would have been nice if some zoo personal was directing people to the parking lot (which was dark with not a lot of signage to see) and had a sign to go to the front gate.

When the ten of us got to the front gate we were lucky in that the TV crews had already set up and there were only about ten other people there at the time so we got great views of the stage.

Trust me this is WAY smaller than the festival in Punxsutawney, PA. There were about a hundred and fifty people there that I could see and that included the staff, the politicians, the choir from P.S. 29 and their parents and the crowd of us but that made it more intimate. You were not elbow to elbow with people and did not have to camp out for the night. The Staten Island Zoo did a nice job. I still think they should move it to a bigger area of the zoo so that the kids could see it. Also, it would have been nice to put the choir and the dancing Groundhog (a staff member dressed in a Groundhog costume) on the stage so that more people could have seen them.

The Zoo staff introduced some of the local politicians to the event. Some of them kept it short and sweet and a few others had to make it about themselves and bring up things in Washington DC, which I think at an event like this has no place for it. It is a family event.

Still one of the local politicians made a good MC for the event and then introduced a student from P.S. 29,  who played the “Star-Spangled Banner” for us on her violin and that was followed by the P.S. 29 choir, who sang a song about Groundhog’s Day. It was really cute and the kids did a nice job entertaining the crowd (See the video below).

 

The Groundhog Ceremony at the Staten Island Zoo 2019 (that’s me in the Spartan knit hat)

Then the band, “Rock a Silly” played their song for Staten Chuck and it was quite clever. (See the band’s video on YouTube below).

 

The Rock-A-Silly Band with their original song for “Staten Island Chuck” (I give the band full credit for this video-very clever guys!)

The band got the crowd really moving on this cold morning.

After all the entertainment, it was time to hear the report from Chuck and the handlers took him out. There was a little of a commotion and then the report came. In the middle of this ‘deep freeze vortex’ Chuck’s prediction was SPRING IS COMING! Everyone cheered loudly at that. With that, there was a little more entertainment, then I was off to tour the zoo.

Staten Island Chuck 2019 II

The Staten Island Zoo is very nice even in the cold weather. I was able to go into the main building and see the monkey, the reptile and the aquarium exhibits, which were nicely displayed and labeled so that you knew what animals were what. The only problem with the zoo is the space is very limited and surrounded by houses so there is no room to expand, so the living space for the animals is small. Still they look happy and content.

I stopped at the Zoo Cafe for a doughnut ($1.00) and to look at the gift shop. They had an interesting ‘Staten Island Chuck’ stuffed groundhog ($12.00) that I had to keep myself from buying. The zoo gift shop is stocked with all sorts of ‘Chuck’ coloring books, tee shirts and little do-dads as well as plush animals, pencils, shirts and hats.  The zoo cafe has the usual hamburgers, chicken fingers and fries on the menu that will appeal to any child.

I walked around the zoo as it started to warm up (now 25 degrees) and went to the outside pens to see the pigs, donkey’s, kangaroos, emus, geese and ducks. The poor emus looked so cold that they were chasing after me with a look in their eyes like either I had food or was going to take them inside. I really felt for the animals in this cold.

By the time I left the zoo, it was 9:45am and the zoo still had not opened. There was myself and two other families left in the early hours zoo and by the time I got back to the parking lot, there were only six cars left.

Even though it was not the crowds of the event in Punxsutawney, PA, it was still a cute event that you should not miss on future Groundhog’s Day when you are visiting New York City. The Staten Island Zoo puts on a good show!

Happy Groundhog’s Day!

 

Places to Visit:

The Staten Island Zoo

614 Broadway

Staten Island, NY  10310

(718) 442-3100

http://www.statenislandzoo.org/

Open: Sunday-Saturday 10:00am-4:45pm

Admission:  Adults (15 and over) $10.00/Seniors (60 and over) $7.00/Children (3-16) $6.00/Wednesdays after 2:00pm is free to everyone. Free with membership. Closed Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years Day.

The Cafe and the Gift shop are open when the zoo is open.

Places to eat:

Zoo Cafe (Inside the Zoo-hours are when the zoo is open)

McDonalds

803 Forest Avenue

Staten Island, NY  10310

(718) 876-6088

Open: 24 hours

Day One Hundred & Twenty Two: Walking the Avenues of the Lower part of the Upper West Side from Riverside Boulevard to Central Park West October 5th-November 15th, 2018

It has been nice being on this side of town again. It has been a few months since my last visit to the Upper West Side. I had a long day in the Soup Kitchen working on the Bread Station and of course, they put me on the dessert section handing out cookies and pies. They kept me going until we ran out of desserts half way through service. How I walked all the Avenues from West 72nd to West 58th Streets in some parts, I don’t know.

After Soup Kitchen,  I revisited Lions, Tigers and Squares at 238 West 23rd Street for a sausage and onion pizza square  ($10.89-See Reviews on TripAdvisor and Diningonashoestringinnyc@Wordpress.com), which is a deep dish  Detroit pizza with the cheese baked into the crust and loaded with chopped sweet onions  and spicy sausage. I took the pizza and relaxed on the High-line. I just watched everyone walk by and get jealous watching me enjoy my pizza.

After lunch, I walked up 9th Avenue which leads to Columbus Avenue by West 59th Street. The lower part of the Upper West Side is a neighborhood of extremes. This part of the Upper West Side is rather unusual in that once you pass West 70th Street everything is large block long buildings, new architecture and one of the most impressive cultural arts centers in the world.

In 1967, New York City planner, Robert Moses, had most of the neighborhood, over 67 acres demolished to make way for the new Lincoln Center complex.You can see the difference in the neighborhood as you pass West 71st Street and the change in each block. Some of the more historical buildings made the cut to survive and the rest were demolished. The City pretty much cleared the area of all buildings and housing and redeveloped everything south of West 70th Street from Columbus Avenue to Riverside Drive and the Hudson River to just past West 59th Street. You can see a distinct change in the architecture south of the low 70’s.

The area was once known as ‘San Juan Hill’ and ‘Lincoln Square’ and was the center of the Puerto Rican and Black community more so than Harlem and East Harlem was at the time. The whites were concentrated to the east from Amsterdam Avenue to Central Park West and the Blacks and the growing Puerto Rican population to the west to West End Avenue. The area was slated for demolition and renewal by the city planners.

I watched the neighborhood change from getting ready for Halloween to getting ready for Christmas (it tells you how long I spent on this side of the City), so I got to see how people decorated their homes during the duration of the holiday season.

halloween upper west side

Brownstones decorated for the holidays.

With the exception of some of the historical buildings and the Brownstone area between Columbus Avenue and Central Park West, they pretty much looked like they leveled the neighborhood from about West 71st Street all the way down to West 58th Street. Everything here now is relatively new in comparison to the rest of the Upper West Side. It is now filled with large apartment complexes, colleges, schools and office buildings though here and there some of the historic buildings were saved from the wrecking ball. With the exception of a small amount of brownstones and the apartment houses facing Central Park West, most of the buildings below West 71st are only about thirty to forty years old.

My first part of walking the neighborhood was walking down the new extension of Riverside Boulevard which is being built on claimed land that was once part of the railroad tracks. This area of the city has been added to on the shoreline of the Hudson River and the the City is just finishing the extension of Riverside Park with Hudson River Park.

This section of green space hugs the Hudson River from West 72nd Street to West 59th Street with new plantings, paths and playgrounds along the way. During my entire trip in the neighborhood no matter the weather, there were joggers, strollers and residents of the neighborhood sitting on the benches talking. This park has created a new neighborhood on the edge of this part of the Upper West Side.

All along Riverside Boulevard from West 71st Street to the extension by the walls of West 59th Street is lined with innovative luxury resident buildings that have a beautiful views of the Hudson River and the New Jersey Palisades. On a sunny day by the park, the views must be amazing from the windows facing the windows.

Turning the corner at West 70th to Freedom Place which dissects the riverfront from West End Avenue, you begin to see the changes that Robert Moses and the City of New York made when they leveled the neighborhood for Lincoln Center and the universities. The architecture changes from from prewar apartments and brownstones to modern buildings of the sixties, seventies up to current construction. These are much bigger more modern structures that change the complexity of the neighborhood.

Freedom Place and Freedom Place South are separated by resident structures between West  66th and West 64th Streets. This area is morphing again as buildings are being sandblasted back to life or being rebuilt. Freedom Place is an Avenue in transition as the neighborhood is changing again and bringing in a whole new set of residents.

Unfortunately though these buildings don’t have the personality of those above West 71st Street. The detail to the architecture is more ‘big box’ then the stonework with carved details. What is does show though is a new modern neighborhood in Manhattan. These is one detail that stands out. On the corner of West 62 Street is Collegiate Garden, a small rose garden with benches to relax. When it was in bloom during the end of the Summer and beginning of Fall it was in full bloom. It was a nice place to just relax and watch people walking their dogs.

West End Avenue in this part of the Upper West Side does not have that pre-war classic look to it. In this section of the neighborhood it is modern apartment buildings dominated by 150 West End Avenue. This complex of modern apartment buildings covers from West 70th Street to West 66th Street. From West 63rd to West 61st Streets from West End Avenue to Amsterdam Avenue is the Amsterdam Houses which were built in the late 50’s when the neighborhood was being leveled.

They are currently going under a renovation. Still it was creepy walking through the complex. Someone threw something out the window when I walked by. Also most of the construction workers stared at me as I walked through the complex as I had to criss cross it several times to walk this part of the Avenues. I still get that debated look on everyone’s face of whether I am a cop or DEA.

Like West End Avenue, Amsterdam Avenue is very similar to West End Avenue dominated by new construction, the Fordham University campus, two high schools one being the famous Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Performing Arts where many famous actors, singers and performers have graduated from.

This part of Amsterdam Avenue is a place of extremes right across the street from one another. You have the Amsterdam Houses right which were built in the 1950’s right across the street from Lincoln Center which was built in the 1960’s. Literally a huge change in walking across the street.

I walked all through the Amsterdam Houses and got a lot of looks from the construction guys who were working on the renovation of the complex. Like most of the neighborhood, even the complex is going through changes. The whole complex was under scaffolding or under wraps as all the buildings were being fumigated. It is so strange that the City would have built this complex in this area considering what Robert Moses thought of the poor and being across from the new ‘jewel’ of the neighborhood, Lincoln Center.

If you thought you were in some upscale part of the area trust me I was reminded when a bottle was lodged from one of the top floors at me when I was walking around. It is amazing what people will do when someone was just walking around. That was the wake up call to what gentrification is doing to change the neighborhood.  It will be interesting to see what the results of the renovation will look like. The weird part about this complex is that it sits like an island in the middle of a neighborhood that is getting richer and richer.

As you pass the Amsterdam Houses though, you are reminded that this is now a neighborhood of culture. Right across the street from the projects is Lincoln Center, one of the most influential and prestigious entertainment complexes in the world.

The Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts is a 16.3 acre complex of buildings that house the New York Philharmonic, the Metropolitan Opera, the New York City Ballet and the New York City Opera. Built as part of the “Lincoln Square Renewal Project” during the Robert Moses program of urban renewal in the 1950’s and 1960’s, the complex spans from  West 60th to West 66th Streets between Columbus and Amsterdam Avenues.

Under the direction of city planners and civic leaders that included John D. Rockefeller III, almost the entire neighborhood from West 59th Street to West 69th Street from Amsterdam to West End Avenue was leveled of its tenements and the has become home to two college campus, two high schools, the sprawling Lincoln Center campus and many new apartment buildings that now line the streets from the Hudson River to Columbus Avenue.

Over the past fifty years, the entire neighborhood has changed with new buildings for schools and housing on the spot where black and Irish gangs used to do battle. This once area of immense black culture has given way to an upper middle class enclave that now includes the Time Warner Building with the Mandarin Hotel and upscale shops.

As you continue the walk up Amsterdam Avenue, you will pass Fiorella H. LaGuardia High School for the Performing Arts whose Alumni reads like a Who’s Who in the entertainment world. On the next block up from that is the Martin Luther King High School, which specializes in Law, the Arts and Technology. At lunch hour and after school the neighborhood is teeming with teenagers gossiping and yelling at one another. Nothing has changed in the 35 years since I graduated. The conversations are still the same.

As you cross over the West 70th Street border of the neighborhood, you start to see the older section of the neighborhood and this is the tail end of the neighborhood before everything below was leveled. You will see a distinct change in the architecture and how the city planners must have saved the more historic buildings of the neighborhood bounded east of Broadway.

Passing Sherman Square, a small pocket park on the corners of Amsterdam, Broadway and West 70th Street that is dedicated to Civil War General William T. Sherman once had a past all of its own as the notorious “Needle Park” of the 60’s and 70’s, where drug dealers and pushers used to habit. I had to watch “The Panic in Needle Park” again to see how this stretch of the neighborhood has changed. Between Verdi Square and Sherman Square with the new plantings, trees and freshly painted benches and a branch of Bloomingdale’s around the corner, it is amazing how a city transformed itself in 35 years. The area is now loaded with new housing, restaurants and stores (and its still morphing!).

sherman square

In the lower part of Verdi Square, you can continue to admire what the Art in the Parks is doing with the statue “In Sync” by artist Kathy Ruttenberg. This unusual sculpture looks like a deer mashed with people and the strangest expression on its face. It is part of the project “Kathy Ruttenberg on Broadway, a series of sculptures by the artist. It is a cross between some surrealist beast in “Alice in Wonderland” or you would see “Over the Rainbow”. What I loved about her work in this outside show was how depicted nature in such an unusual fashion.

in sync

In Sync by Kathy Ruttenberg

“Kathy Ruttenberg on Broadway: in dreams awake”: features six large-scale, figural sculptures artist on the Broadway malls between 64th and 157th Street. In her first major outdoor installation, Ruttenberg created narrative works, combining human, animal and plant forms that bring alive a wonder world in which different species merge and figures serve as landscapes. The artist employs a variety of sculptural media including paginated bronze, glass mosaic, transparent cast resin and carefully orchestrated LED lighting. The interaction among color and form, opacity and transparency and even light itself used as a medium highlights the inherently theatrical nature of the visual storyteller’s art (Broadway Mall Association 2018).

 

Kathy Ruttenberg’s video on the exhibition

Ms. Ruttenberg was born in Chicago but her family moved to New York City. She received her BFA with Honors from the School of Visual Arts in 1981. It was noted that her work expresses a distinctly feminine perspective with mostly women as main characters and masculine characters depicted in complex but usually secondary roles. The natural world  and our relationship to it underpin her work and feature broadly in her narratives (Wiki). Try to see the works before they disappear in February of 2019.

Sitting at the corner at 171 West 71st Street and Broadway near the intersection with Amsterdam Avenue is The Dorilton Apartments which looks like a Victorian wedding cake. The apartment building is a reminder when apartment buildings were not glass boxes but graced with elegance and loaded with carved marble and statuary.

dorlitan apartment

The Dorilton Apartments

The apartment building was designed by Janes & Leo, the New York based architectural firm of Elisha Harris Janes and Richard Leopold Leo for real estate developer Hamilton Weed. The building is noted for its opulent Beaux-Arts style limestone and brick exterior, featuring monumental sculptures, richly balustraded balconies and a three story copper and slate mansard roof. The building was finished in 1902 (Wiki).

You can see through the gateway in front to the courtyard of the building, something similar to The Dakota and The Ansonia a few blocks away. Residents enter their building through a narrow entrance that leads into a recessed courtyard and the masonry archway over this entrance rises to the 9th floor. The doorway to this courtyard is comprised of a stone doorway topped with globes, all of which is sandwiched in between detailed wrought iron fencing (Wiki). You can see from the building that it sits as a grand dame amongst the new buildings in the area and was spared the wreaking ball by being on the right side of the neighborhood.

As you cross into West 72nd Street, you are greeted by the upscale coffee stands that are now in Verdi Square which lies above Sherman Square. It just goes to show how thirty years has changed this once downtrodden section of the Upper West Side. There is still grit along this side of the Avenue but slowly, like the rest of Manhattan, is covered up by scaffolding and will either be sandblasted or torn down to make way for the next high-rise. Still as written in various other walks, West 72nd Street still holds onto its charms with older shops in its business district that are geared to the locals and not the tourists.

On the way back down Amsterdam Avenue by the corner of West 63rd Street is the firehouse FDNY Engine 40/Ladder 35 made famous by the David Halberstam novel “Firehouse” based on the events of 9/11 which was published in 2002. Mr. Halberstam discusses in his book the tragedy of that day and the companies loosing their members (eleven) in the collapse of the towers.

firehouse

 

The memorial outside the firehouse shows the members who were lost that day. Take time to look over the memorial and say a prayer for these members who gave up their lives to make us safe.

fdny

Engine 40/Ladder 35

After meeting Mr. Halberstam at a book signing, it inspired me to write my novel, “Firehouse 101” a fictional tale taking it from the standpoint of the people were survived and were left behind to pick up the pieces of their own lives. My novel took it from the standpoint of the neighbors and friends where Mr. Halberstam took it from the stand point of the non-fictional lives of the fire fighters lost. I swear for the couple of weeks that I criss crossed the neighborhood and passed this firehouse, I just kept thinking of the sacrifice these men made and how that inspired books to be written.

firehouse 101 picture iii

As you pass the firehouse, you are walking in the back section of Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts. Towards the bottom of the Avenue heading to West 59th Street is Fordham University and Mt. Sinai Hospital campus which run from Amsterdam Avenue to Columbus Avenue as you cross West 59th Street. As you walk from Amsterdam Avenue to Columbus Avenue down West 59th Street, you pass these active campuses.

At the corner of West 59th Street and Columbus Avenue is the William J. Syms Operating Theater that was built in 1891. This is the last part of the old Roosevelt Hospital that was part of the neighborhood. William Syms was a gun merchant, who had had surgery at the hospital. After a successful surgery at the hospital, he wanted to give more than his bill which the hospital would not accept (Wiki).

william syms theater

William Syms Operating Hospital

What he did is upon his death, he left Roosevelt Hospital $350,000 of which $250,000 was to be used for an ‘operating theater’ and at the time used the most innovative materials to keep out bacteria. It had been used for this purpose until the 1950’s and left to ruin. The structure today was gutted and it now going to be used as a private school. The building is now part of modern structure that has been expanded. Look to the details of the building and the signage that is carved in.

As you walk further up Columbus Avenue, you pass the front part of the college and hospital campus and the new construction that happened in the 1960’s to the 1980’s. By the time you get to West 62nd Street to West 66th Street you get to the Lincoln Center complex and its grandeur especially at night with the lights of all the buildings ablaze. It is even more beautiful as we got closer to the holidays when everything was being decorated for Christmas.

Across the street from Lincoln Center is Dante Park which is located at the corner of Columbus Avenue,  Broadway and West 66th Street. This little triangle  of green across the street from the Empire Hotel and Lincoln Center, was originally called Empire park. The park, which was established in 1921 by Americans of Italian decadency and named it after Dante Alighieri, an Italian poet.  At Christmas time, there was one of the most beautiful Christmas trees in the City lit in the park which was part of neighborhoods Annual Winter’s Eve festival, which takes place in the last week of November.

dante park christmas tree

Across the street from Dante Park is the Empire Hotel, a small boutique hotel that has been part of the neighborhood since 1923. The hotel was built by Herbert DuPuy, who had knocked down the original structure in the park and opened this unique hotel on December 5, 1923 (Wiki). It has been part of the neighborhood dining experience since with a series of restaurants over the years that has graced the ground floor. Between the park and the hotel it sits in contrast to the rest of the neighborhood that has been rebuilt over the years.

Columbus Avenue gets interesting once you cross over West 68th Street as the modern structures of lower Columbus Avenue give way to the smaller brick buildings that house a series of homegrown restaurants and stores with an every growing number of national chain stores. Back in 1984, just as the economy was booming due to the rise in Wall Street and junk bonds, Columbus Avenue from West 70th Street to West 84th Street was the new ‘happening neighborhood’ with papers touting it as the next Madison Avenue.

Through several booms and busts in gentrification and the rise of rents, there is not much left of that era except the American Museum of Natural History. On my walk through the Upper West Side in the few months that I have explored the streets of the area, I have started to watch stores and restaurants change hands and open and close with lighting speed. Some have moved further up the Avenue and others have transplanted to other parts of the City.

Broadway has seen the most changes from West 59th Street to West 72nd Street with loads of new apartment buildings and stores built along the street since the 1980’s. I remember all the construction along Broadway in those years and I have never seen this section of the City change so much. Many modern apartment buildings are popping up along the street and this is going all the way up into the 90’s and 100’s now. Still it is interesting to see the old and new structures mix in various parts of the neighborhood.

I ended the walk in the neighborhood by walking across West 72nd Street, looking at the street come to life after work hours. The restaurants started to fill up and people were walking up and down the street heading into stores for dinner. I saw the guys lighting the lights around The Dakota at the corner of West 72nd and Central Park West. It is such a beautiful building.

I walked down to the Museum of Modern Art on West 52nd to see a movie and I just relaxed for the rest of the evening. It had been a long afternoon and my feet were killing me.

Places to Eat:

Lions & Tigers & Squares

238 West 23rd Street

New York, NY  10011

(917) 261-6772

Hours: Sunday-Saturday 11:00am-12:00pm

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d14124878-Reviews-Lions_Tigers_Squares_Detroit_Pizza-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

My blog on Diningonashoestringinnyc@Wordpress.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/diningonashoestringinnyc.wordpress.com/766

Places to See:

The Dorilton Apartments

171 West 71st Street

Dante Park

West 65th Street & Broadway and Columbus Avenue

Sherman Square & Verdi Square

West 70th-72nd Streets

 

Day One Hundred & Twenty Three: Halloween Again October 31, 2018

I can’t believe that the year went by so fast. I blinked my eye and the leaves changed colors and it was the end of the summer. The weather has been so unpredictable  since the beginning of 2018, it is hard to judge the seasons. It was a cold Winter, was cool and rainy most of the Spring, and the Summer was either humid or rainy. We never had normal seasonable days the way we have had in the past. We had two rather nice days around Labor Day Weekend and that was about it.

The Fall became cool very quickly. Where as last year, the leaves did not change colors until November 12th, this year it got really cool early in October and the leaves changed quickly and were off the trees because of constant rain storms. So much for the seasons!

Halloween was the exception to the rule. We had a sudden burst of an “Indian Summer” and the weather to 59 degrees on October 30 and the night of Halloween it was 64 degrees, a perfect night for the Halloween Parade. It was nice to have three days of above 60 degree weather and then by November 2nd back down to 40 degrees. Still it made Halloween more fun and engaging.

Halloween activities ranged from watching films to museum events to the best part of all, the New York Halloween Parade in Greenwich Village. Its more of a lower Manhattan parade now but still keeps it heart in the community. I even designed our shirts for Engine One HHFD with a Jack-o-Lantern logo.

Engine One Tee-shirt 2018

The Engine One Hasbrouck Heights tee-shirt logo.

My first activity of Halloween was visiting the Meadowlands Museum for the Annual Scarecrow Festival. The tough part was it was a gloomy day and there were not many participants. Still the people who came were really artistic and very enthusiastic. There were only a dozen or so scarecrows on the sticks but there were some interesting designs. The sad part was there were only about twenty or so people at the event. This could be a very interesting event if they advertised it more.

Scarecrow Day

Scarecrow Day at the Meadowlands Museum in Rutherford, NJ

The second event I attended was the Ridgewood Schoolhouse Museum Historical Society’s Annual Cemetery Walk through both the Old Dutch Cemetery and the Valleau Cemetery across the street. This is an interesting tour that I did last year by with different actors at the grave sites.

What the Schoolhouse Museum located at 650 East Glen Avenue in Ridgewood does is they wait until nightfall and they take you on a lantern tour of the grave sites of prominent members of the Ridgewood community and an actor plays that person and describes their life and their role in the community.

Ridgewood Cemetery tour I

Joe Suplicki from the Ridgewood Historical Society

Under the direction of Ridgewood historian, Joe Suplicki, who leads the tour into the graveyard with lantern in hand, you will walk a lighted path of luminaries into the heart of the cemetery to the different sites. The most interesting one I found on this tour was the mausoleum of J. J. Newberry, the founder of the discount department store. This company went out of business years ago but I had not realized the family had lived in Ridgewood.

Ridgewood Cemetery Tour II

The Cemetery Walk in Ridgewood, NJ.

The tour really does take you to the spooky parts of the cemetery and it is best to stay with the group. Although no one is popping out at you, you still have a creepy feeling from walking around all the tombstones. It is almost a relief to get back to the museum. The best part is that Demerest Farms in Hillsdale, NJ donates their apple cider and cider doughnuts to the museum for the end of the tour and that is a real treat.

You get to munch on doughnuts and listen to ghost stories from the head of the museum around ‘a campfire’. The best part is watching the kids scared from stories that are told and by kids I mean the forty year olds. Their children are too busy on their cell phones. The museum does a wonderful job every year and for the $10.00 donation it a nice tour.

My next venture on the Halloween list takes me to Croton-on-Hudson to the Van Cortlandt Manor to the annual ‘Pumpkin Blaze’. That is a site to see every year. Even though I have visited it over the last five years, I never get tired of looking at it. The estate is illuminated with hundreds of pumpkins. The pumpkins take all sorts of shapes, sizes, carved faces and even in the structures.

When you enter the estate, you are greeted with a form of mortuary, Halloweenish music that sets the tone for the walk. The Pumpkin Blaze has gotten even more popular in the four years that I have been going and I had to get the tickets way in advance. The weather was nice but it had cooled by this point and was in the low 40’s when I got there.

I was part of the last group that arrived at 8:30pm so the place was starting to clear out when I arrived. It is a lot easier coming towards the end of the night as it gives you more time to walk around.

The display was just as spectacular as in years past. You are greeted at the beginning of the path by the river with carved lit pumpkins of all expressions until you reach the pumpkin bridge, ‘The Pumpkin Zee Bridge’ and travel over it to the rest of the displays which include pumpkin jack in the boxes, a pumpkin ferris wheel and a pumpkin tunnel.

pumpkin blaze

The Pumpkin Zee Bridge and Spider Web at the Pumpkin Blaze.

Through out the display, I walked the path by myself to see pumpkin skeletons, the pumpkin version of the headless horseman, spiders, dinosaurs and a pumpkin circus train. This lead to the main house, the Van Cortlandt Manor, where there were pumpkin scarecrows, a pumpkin cemetery and a light show at the manor that was ablaze with lit pumpkins. The whole effect was engaging.

I doubled back around the cemetery and walked through the sea of pumpkins smiling and grinning at me. The music continued to play as I doubled back through the display but by this time the crowds started to thin and it got colder. When I reached the gift shop it was about 38 degrees I heard someone say. I looked back at the dark lawn with the music still moaning and thought about the amount of work to make this spectacular display every year.

My last event of the holiday was work as a marshal for the Halloween Parade in New York City. I have been working as a marshal for five years now starting in 2014. My job is the least glamorous part of the parade. I work the performance gate where all the performers enter the parade route to their floats. It is also one of the tougher jobs of the parade as I have to make sure all the people who don’t belong in the parade stay out.

It has gotten easier since the passes are now on cell phones or the performers print them out. They know that they have to bring it to the parade. What I love are all the people who try to wheedle  their way in to see the parade at its starting point. I have watched people say that they lived there, were staying at the hotel near by, they have dinner plans across the street, they are meeting someone there or try to sneak in with the groups of performers, After five years, I have gotten wise to everyone. The only problem I have is that I work with people who just let people in because they don’t want to confront people. I just tell them “and the cow jumped over the moon!” when they give me a lame answer.

This year I had a pretty good track record of keeping people out with new volunteers who followed the rules.  It is fun watching the parade come to life. I have watched hundreds of volunteers come through the parade entrance in costume and with instruments in hand who volunteer to make the magic of the parade.

After we got everyone in the parade route, we closed the gate for the night and the NYPD protected it. I got to go into the parade route and by Broome Street got to watch the parade come together with a combination of floats, performing acts and costumed participants progress up the Avenue. By the time I got to the parade starting point most of the parade was already over and had proceeded uptown. I got to see the last of the floats and bands head uptown.

Halloween Parade 2018 IV

The robot themed puppets in the parade.

By 9:00pm, the last float headed uptown with a group of Mardi Gras drag queens yelling and screaming over disco music. The rest of the people in the parade were the costumed participants from all over the world who were thrilled to be in the parade. We left yelling and cheering as they entered the parade route.

There were many creative costumes in the parade. You had your usual cartoon characters, police, fire fighters, superheros and witches and devils. There was not much politics as I had seen in the last two years though there were a few Donald Trump masks. Maybe because I was seeing the end of the parade head up town, it looked to me like people were there to have fun and march in the parade less the politics. I did see some unusual and creative costumes such as geometric angels, elaborate dress costumes and show outfits. There still is a lot of creativity left in the population and they like to show it off one night of the year.

To end Halloween, we all met at Tipsy Parson on 156 9th Avenue for a parade rap up party. It was a nice way to end the evening meeting with all the parade marshals and volunteers. They had a nice meal for us as they did the year before with pulled pork sliders, spiced chicken wings, deviled eggs, macaroni and cheese, chips and dip and assorted desserts. Everyone was starved by the time we got there at 9:30pm and made multiple trips to the buffet.

It was nice to sit back and laugh with everyone. My distant cousin, Mark Schuyler and I got to kid around through the evening about some of the stories we heard about people trying to sneak into the parade lineup. We have been swapping these stories now for five years ( I can’t believe it was that long) and still through the back of my mind I thought “We are here again? A year has gone by this quickly? Where did it all go?”

Through the laughing I realized that time has gone by pretty quickly and Christmas was right around the corner. As another Halloween drew to a close, I look back on this Halloween and realize that you can have fun without dressing up and Trick or Treating. You just have  to see where life takes you and the experiences in front of you.

Halloween is not so bad after all!

The Halloween Parade 2018:

The Greenwich Village Halloween Parade

 

Places to Visit:

Ridgewood Schoolhouse Museum & Historical Society

650 East Glen Avenue

Ridgewood, NJ 07450

(201) 447-3242

https://ridgewoodhistoricalsociety.org/

Open: Thursday 1:30pm-3:00pm/ Saturday 1:00pm-3:00pm/Sunday 1:00pm-3:00pm/Closed Monday-Wednesday & Friday

Admission:  By Donation

Review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g46772-d10353516-Reviews-Schoolhouse_Museum-Ridgewood_New_Jersey.html?m=19905

Van Cortlandt Manor

525 South Riverside Avenue

Croton-on-Hudson, NY  10520

(914) 366-6900

Open: Friday-Sunday 10:30am-4:30pm/Closed Monday-Thursday

Admission: By Donation-Tickets to the Blaze vary by membership and by year.

Review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g47560-d116391-Reviews-Van_Cortlandt_Manor-Croton_on_Hudson_New_York.html?m=19905

Meadowlands Museum

91 Crane Avenue

Rutherford, NJ  07020

(201) 935-1175

https://www.meadowlandsmuseum.com/

Hours: Wednesday & Saturday-10:00am-4:00pm/The Rest of the week is closed

Admission: Donation

Review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g46796-d2403380-Reviews-Meadowlands_Museum-Rutherford_New_Jersey.html?m=19905

The Halloween Parade NYC

Along Sixth Avenue from Canal Street to 23rd Street every Halloween Night October 31st.

 

Places to eat:

Tipsy Parson

156 9th Avenue

New York, NY  10011

(212) 620-4545

http://www.tipsyparson.com/

Hours: Monday-Friday-12:00pm-11:00pm/Saturday-10:00am-11:00pm/Sunday-10:00am-10:00pm

Review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d1986889-Reviews-Tipsy_Parson-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

http://www.tipsyparson.com/

Day One Hundred & Twelve: Walking the Avenues of the lower part of the Upper East Side from Fifth Avenue to FDR Drive from 72nd Street to 59th Street May 23rd-May 30th, 2018

I started my walk today with a walking tour of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Sometimes the Soup Kitchen gets to be too much before these walks and since making my goal of two thousand hours, I have wanted to calm it down. My next goal will be twenty-five hundred hours but I can take my time on that one.

I toured the Asian galleries with other patrons of the museum. The exhibition was the “Crowns of the Vajra Masters: Ritual Art of Nepal” which was a tour of the famous crowns of Nepal. The funny part of these crowns were that they had always been in the collection but had been marked incorrectly by museum for the Armory Galleries as helmets. When they  discovered what they had in storage, they put them out on display and soon will be restored so we won’t see them again for a long time.

The unique part of the tour that the docent told us is that they had never been out on display together since they had been bought to the museum and the first time ever had been displayed at the museum the way they are now. You really had to have the details explained as the symbolism of each crown stood on its own, with their Buddhas and flowers described in detail. All of them were accented with semi-precious jewels.

After the tour was over, I had enough time to walk around the new “Visitors to Versailles” exhibition. This is an exhibition you should not miss while it is open. It has all sorts of the pictures and artifacts on the creation of the building, how it progressed, who visited and how it continued to be added on up to the French Revolution and into the modern times. It was fascinating to see the progress on how it started as a hunting lodge right up to the modern gardens that were installed. Be prepared for at least a two hour visit for both exhibitions to see them properly. It was better than spending the morning cutting vegetables.

I started my walk around the neighborhood at East 72nd Street, walking the lower part of the street passing familiar businesses and apartment buildings. It is amazing how fast scaffolding goes up. It must grow on its own because in just a few weeks, more buildings are surrounded by it or are in the process of being redone or knocked down. As I have said in previous entries, Manhattan is changing at a pace that you can not keep up with it. You can walk a block and a week later it seems that something is in the process of change.

This is true on the first Avenue I walked today, the ever changing York Avenue. It just seems like the entire Avenue is being rebuilt. I have never seen so many new buildings going up on one street. The rest of the blocks will certainly be going through the transition.

If you want to tour the FDR Walkway tour of the river, cross over at East 71st Street and York Avenue and cross the walkway here. It has the most beautiful views of the river and of Roosevelt Island. This is one way to get down to East 59th Street and the edge of the neighborhood. You can also cross over the East 63rd Street entrance as well to the river walk.

York Avenue has the Cornell-Weill Hospital between East 71st to East 68th Streets so these are busy blocks and then you pass the tranquil Rockefeller University between East 68th to East 63rd Street where most of the property facing York Avenue is landscaped and park-like and very pleasant to walk by. I just wish the campus was more open like the Columbia is where you can walk around the Quad. At the end of York Avenue at East 59th Street under the Queensboro Bridge starts the exclusive Sutton Place.

As I have said in a previous blog, really look at the beautiful artwork on the Queensboro Bridge, with it geometric designs along the sides, its beautiful tiling and its vaulted ceilings. The now closed supermarket under the bridge must have been amazing to shop in when it was open.

For lunch I stopped at Go Noodle Chinese Restaurant at 1069 First Avenue (See review on TripAdvisor) which was part of a series of restaurants near the bridge. Its a nice restaurant to sit in and people watch. The lunch specials are reasonable and very good. I started my meal with an egg roll and then had shredded chicken with string beans for my entree. The food here is very good. The entree was loaded with chicken cooked in a brown garlic tasting sauce with properly sauted string beans. The egg roll was better than most I have tried at neighborhood Chinese restaurants but standard with roast pork and shredded cabbage. At $8.25 for a full meal plus the soda, not a bad price for lunch and it was lunch and dinner for me.

After lunch, I needed a rest from the large lunch and all the walking and I stopped in Twenty-Four Sycamore Park on the corner of York Avenue at 501 East 60th Street right next to the Andrew Haswell Green Park on the other side of the road. This delightful little park is very popular with the kiddie/nanny set and had kids scrambling all over the place on this hot day chasing after one another while all the adults sat in the shade and talked amongst themselves. It was a nice place to just sit back and relax. I just tried to avoid the squirt gun fight going on.

24 Sycamore Park.jpg

24 Sycamores Park

As you turn to the lower part of First Avenue, you still see traces of the older part of the city but as you enter the higher East 60’s, things start to change. More and more new buildings are going up. The popular St. Catherine’s Park is between East 67th to 68th Streets and according to the park system mimics the Santa Maria sopra Minerva Church in Rome in its layout to honor St. Catherine (NYCParks). This is another popular spot in the neighborhood for kids and adults alike. Kids were running around all over the park while the parents were relaxing under the shade trees. The sandbox seemed to be really popular with the kids jockeying for space in it.

St. Catherine's Park.jpg

St. Catherine’s Park

When reaching East 66th Street, you will come across the large condominium complex of Manhattan House, which was built between 1950 to 1951 and designed by Gordon Bunshaft for the firm of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill in the modernist style. It overlooks a garden that runs the entire block with two sculptures by the artist Hans Van de Bovenkamp (which you can see from the sidewalk through the windows). Some of the famous people who have lived there include actress Grace Kelly and musician Benny Goodman. The apartment complex reached landmark status in 2007 and take time to walk around the front garden of the complex. It looks like something in Fort Lee, NJ.

Manhattan House.jpg

Manhattan House Apartments

Second and Third Avenues are mostly commercial but have many spots to look over and visit. Walking down Third Avenue past East 66th Street is a plaque on the site of the Nathan Hale, the American Patriot and spy,  hanging by the British during the Revolutionary War. The site is much debated based on its location near the Dove Tavern on the Old Post Road. Another is by the Yale Club near East 44th Street. There has been a debate where the Royal Artillery Park was located. If only Nathan Hale knew where he died would now be a Pier One Store, even he would be shocked.

Nathan Hale Plaque

Nathan Hale Plaque at the Pier One Store

Down the Avenue at East 60th Street is Dylan’s Candy Bar at 1011 Third Avenue, a giant emporium of candy and sweets, (which I hate to say is an exact copy of the old FAO Schweetz, which I ran back in the 90’s when I worked at FAO Schwarz Fifth Avenue. It was very reminiscent of the department due to the fact that the designers of the store, store management and buyer all came from the store to work with Dylan Lauren, designer Ralph Lauren’s daughter. My boss, Jeff, is one of her partners).

She took the creation and made it her own in a store that stocks 7,000 types of candy and a small cafe on the third floor. With the inspiration of “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory”, the store leads into a real life ‘Candyland’. The store is stocked with a rainbow of sweets and treats and one of the top tourist spots in the City (Dylan’s Candy Bar press).

Dylan's Candy Bar

Dylan’s Candy Bar NYC

I stopped at Bloomingdale’s Department Store at 1000 Third Avenue at 59th and Lexington Avenue, the famous ‘Bloomies’, for another visit to ‘Forty Carrots’ (See review on TripAdvisor) on the 7th Floor. I swear on a hot day this is one of the best solutions. For $7.00, I had a small strawberry yogurt with rainbow sprinkles that cooled me down after this part of the long walk around the neighborhood.

40 Carrots

40 Carrots

I got a chance to walk around the store and look at the merchandise. I have to say that the store has changed a lot over the years. It has gotten more upscale and the merchandise more expensive. It still has its past allure but has gotten more elegant in its feel.

Walking back up Lexington Avenue there are a few buildings of interest you really have to see. At 131 East 66th Street and Lexington Avenue is The Studio Building, considered one of the purest Italian Renaissance-palazzo style apartment buildings in New York City. The twelve story building was designed by Charles A. Platt for developer, William J. Taylor, who had developed ‘studio’ apartment buildings on the West Side of Manhattan. Mr. Platt  also designed the other sister building at 130-134 East 67th Street (CityRealty).

The buildings are distinguished by the handsome and large cornice and its very impressive entrance portals flanked by columns and topped with broken pediments on the street-side. The building has a nice tall, wrought-iron fence and four string courses (CityRealty). The buildings were designed landmarked in 1949 for their unique design. Both buildings are quite breath-taking to look at for their elegance.

Studio Building.jpg

Studio Building

As you walk further up Lexington Avenue, you will pass the Seventh Regiment Armory, whose entrance is at 643 Park Avenue, that goes the full block from Lexington to Park Avenues (you can see the statue dedicated to the regiment on Fifth Avenue), the Armory was built between 1877-1881 and is considered to have one of the most important collection of 19th Century intact interiors in New York City. It is now used as a performance art space.

Park Armory.jpg

Park Avenue Armory

The building was built in the ‘Silk Stocking’ district of Manhattan and was one of the first regiments to answer the call of arms by President Lincoln for the start of the Civil War in 1861. It was designed by Charles W. Clinton of the firm of Clinton & Russell and had been a member of the Regiment. It had been used as a military facility and a social club Armory History).

Further up the road between East 67th-69th Streets is the famed Hunter College campus. The students were out in full force when I was walking around the campus. Like Rockefeller University, this college dominates this part of the neighborhood with students and businesses catering to them.  The problem is that the rents are getting so expensive, the students can’t support the upscale businesses that surround the campus and I am beginning to notice that there are more and more empty storefronts around the neighborhood. Still it has a great bookstore to visit.

The rest of Lexington Avenue is surrounded by businesses and apartment buildings that are rapidly changing like the rest of the city. It is funny to walk down these blocks months later to see buildings under scaffolding or businesses that were once a part of the neighborhood for years suddenly disappear.

This is why Park Avenue is so nice. It never really changes. Dominated by pre-war and/or Victorian apartment buildings, it still has the look and feel that it did in the 30’s although there is a lot more money here now than then. Here and there is an old mansion or a small shop and I have found it home to three small but interesting museum’s and galleries.

At Park Avenue & 66th Street is the front part of the Park Avenue ‘Seventh Regiment Armory”. Built in the Gothic style by architect Charles Clinton in 1880, you can see the real detail of the building on the Park Avenue side. The former home of the Seventh Regiment it is now the home of the performing center.

The Americas Society Gallery at 680 Park Avenue is a unique and small little gallery located in the Spanish Institute. There was an interesting exhibition “The Metropolis in Latin America 1830-1930” on the development of cities in Latin America that was very interesting. Another museum/gallery next door to that is Italian Cultural Institute at 686 Park Avenue, who has the tiny ‘Museo Canova’ with the works of Italian artist Antonio Canova.

His “The Tempera Paintings of Possagno” was cataloged in 1817 and reference is made to those paintings depicting “various dance moves, frolics between nymphs and lovers, muses and philosophers, drawn for the artist’s personal knowledge and delight.” (Museo Canova pamphlet). They were interesting little paintings of nymphs and little angels dancing around each other.

The Americas Society and Spanish Institute is housed in the former Percy Rivington Pyne home that was built between 1909-1911 by McKim, Mead & White. Mr. Pyne was a director of the First National City Bank of New York and the founders grandson.  The other part of the Institute is the former home of Oliver D. Filley  (husband of Mary Pyne Filley, Percy Rivington Pyne’s daughter).

Americas Society

Americas Society

Italian Cultural Institute at 684 Park Avenue is housed in the former home of Henry P. Davison, a financier that was designed by the firm of Walker & Gillette in 1917 in the Neo-Georgian style. All three of these homes were saved by Margaret Rockefeller Strong de Larram, Marquesa de Cuevas in 1965 and all three of these homes (now Institutes) were designated as a New York City landmark by the New York City Landmark Preservation Commission on November 10, 1970. Take time to look at the plaques attached to the three buildings and the architecture of the homes. It forms one of the last intact architectural ensembles on Park Avenue (Wiki).

Further up Park Avenue is the Asian Society and Museum at 725 Park Avenue which was founded by John D. Rockefeller III in 1956 with a vision,  to create an institute that would build bridges of understanding between the United States and Asia (Asian Society pamphlet). The museum houses the collection of John D. Rockefeller III on the third floor along with an exhibition of local children’s art and their interpretation of Asian Art. The bottom level houses a well-received restaurant and gift shop. It is an interesting exhibition on Hindu and Buddhist Art.

Asia Society.jpg

Asian Society

Madison Avenue also offers a wide array of interesting architecture and retail stores. At the very top of Madison Avenue is the home of the main store of Ralph Lauren, which is housed in the former Gertrude Rhinelander Waldo Mansion. The home was built by the old money heiress between 1893-1898 designed by Kimball & Thompson in the French Renaissance revival design. It has been leased by Ralph Lauren since 1983, whose company redesigned it as a retail store. This is a store that proves that the ‘brick & mortar’ store is not dead with its elegant displays of merchandise.

Rhinelander mansion.jpg

Rhinelander Mansion-Ralph Lauren Store

Madison Avenue from East 72nd Street to 59th Street is really an Avenue of extremes. Just like the uptown blocks from East 72nd to East 96th Streets is full of extremely expensive but always empty looking stores. More and more of the store fronts are empty as even the raising rents are affecting this area of the city as well. Still it is a great Avenue to window shop.

Still you will find a collection of top American and European upscale shops that cater to that ‘certain’ customer. Needless to say, this part of Madison Avenue I never notice that busy and late at night the Avenue is practically barren.

One stand out on the Avenue is the St. James Church at 865 Madison Avenue near the Ralph Lauren store. This graceful and beautiful Episcopalian church was built 1810-1883 in various locations until in 1884, the present church designed by Robert H. Robertson was designed and built to open in 1885 in the Romanesque style. It has been added onto since the church has been built. Look at the graceful details around the church when you pass by.

I reached the top of Fifth Avenue that evening and was totally pooped! It was 8:20pm and starting to get dark. I just wanted to get back home at that point. I don’t where I garnered the energy but I walked from Fifth Avenue and East 72nd Street to Port Authority at West 42nd Street and collapsed on the bus ride home.

On the 25th of May, I started my day at the Soup Kitchen again lucking out at a somewhat quiet day working on the Bread Station. We did not get any donations of sweets or desserts so it was just bread today and we were able to butter away.

I walked up Sixth Avenue to the Museum of Modern Art to pick up tickets for the museum’s restoration of the movie, “Rosita” with Mary Pickford. This silent film had been all but lost until a print was found in Germany. Most of Mary Pickford’s films were destroyed by the actress herself who I had once read in biography that she did not want to see herself in old films. Pity, she would have been thrilled to see the theater was packed to the gills and they were turning people away.

I had lunch at Halal Guys food cart on the corner of Sixth Avenue and West 53nd Street. I have been coming here for years and the lines for their food always keep increasing (See review on TripAdvisor and DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com). I had on of their combo sandwiches ($6.00), which is loaded with chopped chicken and gyro meat on a soft pita bread. It is so good and I highly recommend it when visiting the MoMA. It is nice to have a sandwich or one of their platters and just sit by the stone benches by the CBS Building and watch the world go by.

I started my walk of the Upper East Side with a walk through Central Park. On the way to the pathway into the park, I noticed a rather weird sculpture by British Nigerian artist Yinka Shonibane entitled “The Wind Sculpture”. The artist created this sculpture to replace a more radical sculpture that had been taken down. The theme behind the piece is tolerance and highlights global migration (The Guardian).

As you pass the Batik colored sculpture, you will enter the walk way to Central Park Zoo, one of the biggest tourist spots for kids in the City. The Zoo, which is now part of the Wildlife Conservatory, has been part of Central Park since the 1860’s and then was renovated again in 1934. The current park was designed in 1984 and was reopened in 1988.

Wind Sculpture.jpeg

The Wind Sculpture

Like the rest of Central Park in the 1970’s and 80’s, the place got run down. Now it is more open and naturalistic to the animals home environment. Don’t miss the seal tanks and the penguin room as I find those the most interesting to visit. Try to get to the seal feeding at 2:00pm when the seals are not too tired of looking at tourists. The gardens are nice along the perimeter of the zoo to just sit and relax on a warm sunny day.

One thing not to miss is the Delacorte Clock just outside of the park. Every half hour, the clock chimes and all the animals do a dance routine. It starts with two monkey’s hitting the bell and then the animals dance around the clock. There is an elephant, goat, bear, kangaroo, penguin and hippo that dance to songs like “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” and 24 other children’s songs. The clock was a gift from philanthropist George  T. Delacorte, who also donated to the park the “Alice in Wonderland” statue and the Delacorte Theater. It was designed by artist Fernando Texidor in partnership of architect Edward Coe Embury  and was dedicated in 1965 to Central Park. Try to get to the park to hear the songs and watch the animals dance.

Delacorte Clock.jpg

Delacorte Clock

I also took my first tour of the Tisch Children’s Zoo right next to the main zoo and this rather more mellow counterpart is more for younger children to see and pet smaller animals. Part of the original park, Lawrence Tisch saw to the renovations and it reopened in 1997. This is a great place for the under 12 crowd.

Between the late night ambulance calls and the work in the Soup Kitchen and the long walks the days before, I relaxed on a grassy knoll in the park near the Fifth Avenue entrance off East 66th Street. I just fell asleep next to a bunch of other people who also were falling asleep in the park. On a warm, sunny day under a shade tree, there is nothing like it. It is so relaxing to just look up at the trees and the sunshine and not believing you are still in the middle of a busy city. I can’t believe this is the same park of the 80’s when you didn’t dare enter. Just don’t do this late at night.

I walked up and around Fifth Avenue to East 72nd Street and walked back down on the park side. There are two interesting statues to take time to see. At Fifth Avenue and East 70th Street is the memorial to architect Robert Morris Hunt. Unveiled in 1893, this memorial was designed by Daniel Chester French, who was the sculptor of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington DC. Robert Morris Hunt designed some of the most prominent mansions during the ‘Gilded Age” and whose work is still a part of the New York City landscape.

The other sculpture is the memorial to the One Hundredth & Seventh Infantry at Fifth Avenue and East 67th Street. This memorial was designed by sculptor Carl Illava and was dedicated in 1927 to the City. It is in memory of the Seventh Regiment New York One Hundred and Seventh Infantry and you again can see the Armory on Park Avenue down the block.

Richard Morris Hunt.jpg

Richard Morris Hunt Memorial Central Park

Across the street from the Robert Morris Hunt Sculpture is the Frick Collection housed in the former home of industrialist Henry Clay Frick. The mansion is one of the last intact surviving “Gilded Age” mansions left on Fifth Avenue. It was designed by architect Thomas Hastings of Carrere & Hastings between 1912-1914 and was lived in by the family until Mrs. Frick’s death in 1931. The house and all its artwork was willed as a museum and since that time, it has been expanded to add a research library and now has travelling collections on top of their permanent collection that contains many “Old Masters”.

I set out to see the new “George Washington” exhibition on the creation of the statue for the Virginia State Capital that was destroyed by fire in the last century. All of the models and drawings were accompanying the display to see how the work was created. After that, I just walked through the galleries to see all the paintings and sit by the fountain in the middle of the old house. The weather got to me and I left the City right after visiting the museum.

I finished my walk of this part of the neighborhood after another day in the Soup Kitchen on May 30th. I was lucky that there were so many people at the Soup Kitchen volunteering that I got put on the Spoon station wrapping spoons. I needed that after the week of walking around that I did.

There was a restaurant I wanted to try for lunch that I had passed when walking around First Avenue earlier in the visit, New Wong Asian Food Inc. at 1217 First Avenue between East 65th and 66th Streets (See review on TripAdvisor). This little Chinese ‘hole in the wall’ caters alot to the Memorial Sloan Kettering Hospital crowd and seeing the lunch in front of one of the hospital workers, I order the same thing, the General Tso’s Chicken lunch special with fried rice ($7.85).

I thought it was a little to American even for me. It was a large portion of tempura-like fried chicken pieces in a sauce that had not flavor to it. I mean none! It looked so good on the plate that I ordered it because of the worker and someone else ordered it because they saw it on my plate. It looked good but it was so over-fried and under spiced I would suggest not ordering it.

It was a sunny warm day and I decided to double back to see some of the sites I had passed earlier and visit some of the small museums and galleries, like the Asian Society at 725 Park Avenue, the Americas Society Gallery at 680 Park Avenue and the Museo Casnova at 686 Park Avenue. I also revisited some of the sites on Park, Madison and Fifth Avenues ended my day at Glaser’s Bake Shop at 1670 First Avenue (See many reviews on TripAdvisor and DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com). This meant that I had to try a few things like the Lemon Crumb Danish ($3.00) and the Kitchen Sink Stuffed Cookie ($3.50). After all that walking, I figured I could walk this all off.

My last part of the day before going home I just relaxed at Carl Schurz Park at East 84th Street. I just ate my dessert and walked the boats go by. On a warm sunny late afternoon, there is nothing like sitting in the park and watching the river traffic go by and people walk their dogs and kids play in the playground (See reviews in earlier blogs). Who says the Twitter generation does not have fun? I did not see many cellphones out while the kids were chasing one another around. By the way, they did finish that luxury building across the river in Queens next to the housing projects.

As I passed Park Avenue and East 72nd Street, I saw an unusual sculpture in the Park Avenue Mall by artist Tony Cragg made of fiberglass with the most unusual spirals called “Hammerhead 2017”. This British artist has been working with uses a form of mixed materials and is part of the “Art in the Park” program. Don’t miss this geometrical sculpture on the mall.

Tony Cragg Park Avenue statue.jpg

Tony Cragg Sculpture Park Avenue

I did walk from York Avenue and East 84th Street back to Port Authority on West 42nd Street. Along the way at the very edge of the neighborhood, there is the famous hotels, The Pierre at 2 61st Street, where I had once worked for a week in college in the sales department and the Sherry-Netherland at 781 Fifth Avenue. These start the upscale hotels and stores of Fifth Avenue until about East 50th Street. I was exhausted by the time I hit the East 59th Street.

Still it is an interesting neighborhood, loaded with small museums, parks, stores and public art. That’s why these entries are getting longer as there is so much more to see and so much more time to spend walking around.

Hey, I had to work off the Chinese meal, two pastries, two protein bars and three Cokes. I need to buy stock in Coca Cola.

 

 

Places to Eat:

Go Noodle

1069 First Avenue

New York, NY  10022

Phone: (212) 888-6366/5995

Fax: (212) 888-4244

http://www.gonoodleninemoon.com

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d4369518-Reviews-Go_Noodle-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

Halal Guys

Corner of Sixth Avenue & West 53nd Street

Located all over the city in carts and shopss

http://www.halalguys.com

Hours vary

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d3491934-Reviews-The_Halal_Guys-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

My review on DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com:

 

New Wong Asian Food Inc.

1217 First Avenue

New York, NY  10065

Phone: (212) 517-7798/7898 & Fax (212) 517-2988

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

My review on TripAdvisor:

 

Glaser’s Bake Shop

1670 First Avenue

New York, NY 10128

(212) 289-2652

Open: Closed Monday’s

Monday-Friday: 7:00am-7:00pm

Saturday: 8:00am-7:00pm/ Sunday: 8:00am-3:00pm

http://www.glaserbakeshop.com

(Now Closed)

 

Places to Visit:

24 Sycamore Trees Park

501 East 60th Street

New York, NY  10022

https://www.nycgovparks.org/parks/twenty-four-sycamores-park/history

St. Catherine’s Park

1st Avenue between East 67th and East 68th Streets

New York, NY 10022

https://www.nycgovparks.org/parks/st-catherines-park

Carl Schurz Park

York Avenue and East 84th Street

New York, NY  10022

https://www.nycgovparks.org/parks/carl-schurz-park

Dylan’s Candy Bar

1011 Third Avenue

New York, NY  10065

(645) 735-0048

http://www.dylanscandybar.com

Monday-Thursday: 10:00am-9:00pm

Friday-Saturday: 10:00am-11:00pm

Sunday: 10:00am-9:00pm

https://www.dylanscandybar.com/

Bloomingdale’s

1000 Third Avenue

59th Street at Lexington Avenue

New York, NY 10065

http://www.bloomingdales.com

Monday-Thursday: 10:00am-8:30pm

Friday-Saturday: 10:00am-9:30pm

Sunday: 11:00am-9:00pm

https://www.bloomingdales.com/buy/new-york-city

Seventh Regiment Armory

643 Park Avenue

New York, NY 10065

(212) 696-3930

info@armoryatpark.org

https://www.snf.org/en/grants/grantees/s/seventh-regiment-armory-conservancy,-inc-(park-avenue-armory)/

The Frick Collection

One East 70th Street

New York, NY  10021

(212) 288-0700

Hours:

Sundays: 11:00am-5:00pm

Monday’s: Closed

Tuesday-Saturday: 10:00am-6:00pm

https://www.frick.org/

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g60763-d107466-Reviews-Frick_Collection-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

My review on VisitingaMuseum.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/visitingamuseum.com/2655

Museo Canova/Institute of Italian Culture

686 Park Avenue

New York, NY 10021

(212) 879-4242

Open: Monday-Friday: 8:00am-4:00pm/Closed Saturday and Sunday

http://www.iicnewyork.esteri.it/iic_newyork/en/

Americas Society

680 Park Avenue

New York, NY  10065

(212) 628-3200

http://www.as.coa.org

Open: Wednesday-Saturday: 12:00am-6:00pm/ Closed Sunday-Tuesday

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g60763-d548518-Reviews-Americas_Society-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

My review on VisitingaMuseum:

https://wordpress.com/post/visitingamuseum.com/2144

Asian Society and Museum

725 Park Avenue

New York, NY 10021

(212) 288-6400

http://www.asiasociety.org

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g60763-d136164-Reviews-Asia_Society_and_Museum-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

My review on VistingaMuseum.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/visitingamuseum.com/2110

All the sculptures I mentioned all over the neighborhood are available to see all day long.

 

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

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.

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.

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.

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. These stores get a local gathering of residents and tourists lucky enough to find them.

So as I do “MywalkinManhattan.com”, let’s go shopping and eat something 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@Wordpress.com” and “DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com”  to complete your touring experience around the Metropolitan area and beyond.

Day Forty-Nine: Walking Riverside Drive from 86th Street to 155th Streets July 10, 2016

I went to the Museum of Natural History this morning for a walking tour called “The History of Sharks” that took us through several galleries as the tour guide explained the history of sharks from pre-historic times to present day. How we live with sharks, how their DNA developed over the years and a discussion on the famous attacks on the New Jersey shore in 1916 to the movie ‘Jaws’. The museum runs these special tours for members and it was nice to explore the museum as a small group. Their volunteers do a wonderful job explaining things and the museum, in anticipation of a major rainstorm that never happened, was packed to the gills. I never see it that busy.

After my visit to the museum, I decided to take a walk up Riverside Drive. It was such a beautiful day with no sign of rain coming, I walked the length of Riverside Drive from 86th Street to 155th Street, crossed over 155th Street to St. Nicholas Avenue and walked down the street to 145th Street to get a better look at the brownstones and mansions and then back up to 155th Street and back down the other side of Riverside Drive to 110th Street and across to the subway station the corner of Central Park. This part of the walk took me past many historical sites and statues, past pocket parks and mansions and the beauty of Riverside Park.

First there is nothing like walking around the west side of Manhattan along Riverside Park. It is a truly wonderful park with people jogging, biking, sunbathing and picnicking. Everyone was really enjoying this clear, sunny Summer afternoon. On a quiet Sunday, the park is mostly yours depending on where you are walking.

All along the way uptown, Riverside Park and Drive are lined with many memorials and statues. I was amazed on many were in the area of the drive. My first stop along the way was the Soldiers’ & Sailors’Monument at West 89th Street that was dedicated to the Union Army soldiers and sailors who contributed in the American Civil War. This structure was completed in 1902 and President Theodore Roosevelt presided over the opening. A very impressive structure that I can see most people miss.  Part of the structure is still in disrepair but you can still walk around the pillared structure and gaze at its beauty.

Soldier and Sailor Monument.png

Soldier’s & Sailors Monument

I took a turn and swung into Riverside Park to visit a small playground and a very lively birthday party. I dropped into Hippo Park at 91st Street, a lively little playground with tons of kids running around, climbing on playground structures and actually acting like kids. I see far too many children obsessed with the cell phones not paying attention to what is going on around them. The kids were obviously having fun while the parents handed out food and gossiped amongst themselves.

Hippo Park is part of the Riverside Park Conservatory and run by volunteers in the neighborhood that also provides entertainment during the summer with outdoor concerts and a newly renovated playhouse for parties. Check out their website for details.

Hippo Park

Hippo Park

The next monument that I passed was the Firemen’s Memorial at 100th Street and Riverside Drive. This is a very quiet and relaxing sculpture that is dedicated to the members of the Fire Department who have lost their lives in the line of duty. This sculpture was dedicated in 1913 and has been renovated a few times since. During the tragedy of 9/11 in 2001, this became a vigil site for those morning the loss of so many members of the FDNY. This stop is a must for all fire fighters.

Firemen's Memorial Riverside Park

Firemen’s Memorial

My next stop was at the Franz Sigel Statue at West 106th Street. The majestic statue of a Major General in the Union Army during the Civil War. He encouraged many then German-Americans to fight for the Union. After the war, he became a proud New Yorker. This small park faced Riverside Drive on the other side of the street.

Franz Sigel Statue

Franz Sigel Statue

As I continued the walk up further, the monuments continued with the statue of Samuel Tilden, a former Governor of New York located at West 112th Street. Tilden’s career was illustrious with fights  against the Tweed stronghold in NYC and some saying that he had the Presidential election stolen from him with the Electoral College by Rutherford Hayes. His large estate and book collection helped found the New York Public Library.

Samuel Tilden Statue.jpg

Samuel Tilden Statue

I finally made it to one of my goals for the day, Grant’s Tomb (see the reviews on TripAdvisor and VisitingaMuseum.com), the final resting place of our 18th President Ulysses Grant and his wife, Julia. This monument has had a love-hate relationship with the city. The President died of throat cancer in 1885 and his wife recommended that his burial place be in New York City over West Point and Washington DC as President Grant and his wife made this their home for the last years of their life.

Grant's Tomb.png

Grant’s Tomb

The monument was finished in 1897 and the President’s remains were moved here before the dedication. His wife died in 1902 and was buried along side her husband.  In 1958, the National Park Service took the monument over and was given a small budget to oversee it.  In the 70’s and 80’s as the city had declined, this part of the park was a mess and the monument was vandalized to the hilt. It had gotten so bad at one point where the descendants of the family threatened to pull the bodies out of the tomb because of neglect. Since the 90’s, the monument and the park have been restored and it is open to the public for limited times during the week.

The park now is used for picnicking and parties as many were going on as I walked through the park. The tomb itself was closed for the day and was fenced off to the public. Not a good sign for the parks system for such an important piece of the city’s history.

Off to the side of the monument,  inside Riverside Park next to the path, is the Amiable Child Memorial (See review on VisitingaMuseum.com), the resting place to St. Clair Pollock. This touching little monument is dedicated to a child who died in 1797 in the fifth year of his life from a fall from the cliffs somewhere in the current park. It is one of the private graves located on public land. This small stone funeral urn is on a pedestal marking the grave. It is a very touching grave to a small child. I left a coin there as many have in the past.

Tomb of the Amiable Child

Tomb of the Amicable Child

I continued the walk up through the park until I hit Riverbank Park on 145th Street, one of the unique parks I have ever seen. The 28 acre park is built on the top of a water treatment plant that was inspired by parks built on roof tops in Japan. This park has everything. It has a pool, basketball courts, tennis courts, soccer field, baseball field, a cool off fountain and ice skating rink. It has it all and has the neighborhood embraced this park. The place was packed in all venues. It was a truly democratic park as all races play here.

I was most impressed by the number of families having parties and barbecues in the park. There must have been about a dozen birthday parties going on at once. The smells of barbecue meats and vegetables wafted in the air and the sounds of laughter and singing was all over the place. Even on a hot day, nothing stops people from having a good time.

I was most impressed by the Snack Bar located in the park’s main building. For $6.00, I got a cheeseburger, fries and a Coke and for a park snack bar they were really good. The portion size was generous and I can tell you for fact that the fries are excellent. Even if you don’t like sports make a special trip to snack bar and you won’t be disappointed. (See review on TripAdvisor)

After a 45 minute detour of this amazing park, I walked the rest of the way through Riverside Park until I hit Trinity Cemetery again and crossed 155th Street to St. Nichols Avenue again. I wanted to take a better look at the mansions at 150th Street in Sugar Hill. This section of Sugar Hill I did not have time to take a good look at the last time I was walking St. Nichols Avenue.

Sugar Hill.jpg

Sugar Hill Brownstones

The homes and brownstones in this area are just gorgeous and give you a totally different prospective of Harlem. Most of these buildings have been sandblasted and restored or in the process of being done. The mansions on the corner of 150th Street and Edgecomb Avenue hark back to a time when this was a very fashionable avenue and don’t miss the Bailey House that is fully restored.

I took a pit stop and stopped for a quick slice of pizza on 145th Street at Victorio’s Pizza Plus at 348 West 145th Street and one of the best slices of pizza I have ever had for $1.00. The pie had just come out of the oven and it was a thin crust made with fresh mozzarella and it was heavenly. Flavorful sauce and the right amount of cheese that was cooked perfectly at any price the pizza was delicious. This is a must for all the CUNY students. (See TripAdvisor review)

The walk took me back across 155th Street and back down Riverside Drive. The park, even at twilight is busy. There were so many bikers, joggers and walkers that you had to move a lot on the sidewalks. My last structure I saw as I walked down Riverside Drive was the Ralph Ellison art piece “Invisible Man” (the picture above) done by sculpture Elizabeth Catlett at 150th Street. It was dedicated to the novelist work on his book “The Invisible Man” about his experience as a Black man during the Civil Rights Movement in NYC. Ralph Ellison lived in the area before he died in 1994. It really is quite the statue.

Invisible Man

Invisible Man Sculpture Riverside Park

As I passed Grant’s Tomb, there were about three parties going on in the park. I don’t think the President even partied that much in one evening when he lived in the city. I could not believe that the park around the tomb would be this busy at eight at night. There were colorful lights all over the trees and a grill going.

I got to 110th Street around 8:30pm and as I rounded Riverside Drive to 110th Street the neighborhood which had been on the fringe for many years has completely changed. The area by Riverside Park had always been nice but as I walked further down the street this area has been sandblasted and rebuilt. Many parts of uptown that had been ignored for years look more like the Upper East Side.

I even saw people walking into Morningside Park which when I was working in the city in the 90’s was a death trap that you would not walk anywhere near but like the rest of the parks like Tompkins Square in the Lower East Side and Bryant Park behind the main library time has passed and they have been fixed up, cleaned up and the area around them now is priced higher.

Morningside Park

Morningside Park

My last stop of the evening was Miss Mamie’s Spoonbread Too at 366 West 110 Street. This neighborhood staple has been around for years and in a much gentrifying neighborhood that seems to be getting away from its Harlem roots. I hope owns the building. The food and service were just excellent. The biggest problem I had with the restaurant is that I over thought how hungry I was that night. After a big lunch at 5:00pm and a slice of pizza by the time the food came I was barely hungry.

Miss Mamie’s is not to be missed. They had a dinner special that was $19.99 for a salad that was one of the best restaurant salads I had had in years. It was crisp with fresh lettuce and tomatoes with a light dressing, for the entrée was freshly fried chicken that was crisp on the outside and moist on the inside and the chicken had so much flavor to it. I had it with mac and cheese and candied yams, not the most healthy choices but after a five mile walk I figured I had burned off a few calories. It was so much food that I had to take half of it home with me along with the Peach Cobbler dessert that was included in the meal (See the review on TripAdvisor).

Miss Mamie's Spoonbread

Miss Mamie’s Spoonbread Too

The service was friendly with out being overwhelming. I must give off certain vibes in this neighborhood because the waitress asked me if I was a lecturer for Columbia. I laughed at the one and asked why. She said I looked smart. I don’t know what looking smart is but I took it as a compliment. Usually above 110th Street every assumes that I am either a cop or DEA. Amazing what being tall is to people.

I ended the evening totally exhausted and took the subway from the 110th Street and Central Park West. Another sign of changes in the neighborhood is that I saw people jogging into the northern park of Central Park at 9:30pm. Things have really changed up here.

Places to Visit:

Hippo Park Conservatory

West 91st and Riverside Drive

New York, NY  10025

(212) 870-3070

https://riversideparknyc.org/groups/hippo-playground/

Riverbank Park

679 Riverside Drive

New York, NY  10031

(212) 694-3600

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

https://parks.ny.gov/parks/93/details.aspx

Reviews on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g60763-d565030-Reviews-Riverbank_State_Park-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

General Grant’s National Memorial (Grant’s Tomb)

122nd Street & Riverside Drive

New York, NY  10027

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

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 Amicable Child

524 Riverside Drive

New York, NY  10027

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

My review on VisitingaMuseum.com:

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

Various Statues along Riverside Drive

See Riverside Park Memorials NYCParks.com

 

Places to Eat:

Victorio’s Pizza Plus

348 West 145th Street

New York, NY  10039

(212) 283-2100

https://www.victoriospizzaplusmenu.com/

My review on TripAdvisor:

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

Miss Mamie’s Spoonbread

366 West 110th Street

New York, NY  10039

https://spoonbreadinc.com/

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d426019-Reviews-Miss_Mamie_s_Spoonbread_Too-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

Riverbank Park Snack Bar

679 Riverside Drive

Riverbank Park at West 145th Street

New York, NY  10031

 

 

 

 

 

Day Forty-Seven: July 9, 2016 Walking Tour with Deborah Geiger and F.I.T. through Bushwick,Brooklyn

Bushwick Picture
Our tour group picture with Deborah Geiger, tour guide extraordinare.

As part of my exploration of the city, I took a break from my usual walk of Manhattan and went on a walking tour of one of the city’s most up and coming neighborhoods, Bushwick in northeastern Brooklyn. When I started working in the city in 1990, you would not be caught dead in Bushwick let alone be dead if you went there. It had the highest amount of crime, child mortality, AIDS, drug and gang problems in the whole city and sensible people stayed away. With Greenpoint and Williamsburg now gentrified and everyone pushing east and south, the northern parts of Crown Heights, Bedford-Stuyvesant, East Greenpoint and finally to Bushwick.

I took the tour through the Fashion Institute of Technology (I am an Alumnus Class of ’93) in their ‘Hot Topics’ Talks and Tours program and we had an excellent tour guide, Deborah Geiger who is the Director of Content for Envirosell, a consumer shopping behaviorist, who just happens to live in the neighborhood as well. This was her third time moving their since 2001 and she said she has seen the neighborhood quickly change.

I had been Bushwick once years ago when writing my novel, “Firehouse 101” (IUniverse.com 2005), when the protagonist’s neighbor goes there for a late night party and he thinks she is out of her mind.  While the neighborhood is still a little sketchy, like all places in New York City, it’s best to look over your shoulder every once in a while and still keep the eyes in the back of your head.

Our trip started at the Fashion Institute of Technology. I got there so early that I was able to tour the ‘Uniformity’ exhibition at the Fashion Institute Museum. This little museum is a true gem and my three years there as a student I never once went inside. The school did a nice job with displaying the history of the uniform and the role it played in corporate, government and school structure. I was most impressed with the airline uniforms for stewards and the original McDonald’s uniform. It is a small but very detailed exhibition and should not be missed if you are in the area (located in the Shirley Goodman Building on the FIT campus).

We took the A Train to the L Train when we transferred at Union Square. I swear to God when you travel on the L Train it is like being on a college campus. Everyone looks like they are in their 20’s or else trying too hard to be a ‘hipster’. I have been on the L train a few times and it is like they cloned the some guy  and kept manufacturing him. Everyone has the same beard and glasses. At least it is so hot outside that the knit hats are put away (or Thank God that trend is over). The herd seems to get on and off at Bedford Avenue, the heart of Williamsburg. As you go further west, it starts to change again and more diverse once you hit East Williamsburg and Bushwick.

We got off at the Bushwick Avenue and Montrose Stop just above Flushing Avenue which according to the New York Times Real Estate section is the border between East Williamsburg and Bushwick. I guess there is a debate on where Bushwick really starts. We started our tour walking up Bushwick Avenue to  Meserole Avenue to look at the street art and the new breweries and clubs opening up along the street. It is amazing what these entrepreneurs are doing with these old factory buildings.

Our first stop  the tour was the City of Saints Coffee Roasters at 297 Meresole Avenue. The City of Saints has three locations, here in Bushwick, one in the Village and the other in Hoboken, NJ. This is the main processing plant for the coffee. We were met by Jim Osborn, the head roaster and a partner in the business. He explained to us the whole procedure of how they find the beans in Central America and Africa, how they work with the exporters and then how they are received. We then discussed the process of how the beans are roasted, tested and blended to make the perfect coffee flavor. We then had a tasting of some of the blends and even though I am not much of a coffee drinker the way they mixed the beans in some of the coffees was very impressive.

What I like the most about the store was the artwork and the way the store was set up. The graffiti art was interesting and the open air café really welcomed in the community. You got to see how the whole process was done while enjoying the atmosphere of a coffee shop in Bushwick.

City of Saints Roasters

City of Saint Coffee Shop in Bushwick, Brooklyn

We toured around the neighborhood walking down Johnson Avenue to Varick Avenue then down Ingraham Avenue then back to Morgan Avenue on to Bogart Street to see street art that is on walls around the neighborhood. Some of the street art is interesting but most will be gone as it gets painted on top of by other artists.

Our next stop was the Odetta Gallery at 226 Cook Street. This small gallery faced outside walls filled with more art. It really fit into the neighborhood. The owner of the gallery was explaining how she opened the gallery in Bushwick  to be in the middle of the art explosion in this section of Brooklyn and the center of art innovation.

Odetta Gallery

Odetta Gallery

Her current exhibition was by artist Kurt Steger whose exhibition ‘Scribing the Void’ with original musical composition  by RSM was on display. The work was very original in that the piece on display was the outline of a rock in Central Park which I thought was a very original idea. What Mr. Steger did over a series of days (he had to work quickly in the park) was take an outline of a rock formation near the middle of the park and then recreate the outline in a pattern in a series of pieces put together in one form. The music came about based on the outline of the piece formation of the rock. The two interplay with each other in the exhibition.

Kurt Steger Scribing the Wall.jpg

Kurt Steger’s “Scribing the Wall” at the Odetta Gallery

Mr. Steger came to the gallery to talk to our group and that was a real treat as it is always nice to get the artists perspective on their work.  I had a nice conversation with him on where the idea for the project came from and some of the art he created. I thought  it was interesting when he told me that he created a 9/11 structure that was used as a healing tool by people affected by the tragedy.

He would do readings by the sculpture to help with the healing process. The piece was  eventually bought by a hospital to use for that purpose. His work really transcends the overall look to it. His outlook on his work and its meaning was insightful. He and the gallery owner were looking to sell this particular piece to one of the museums that faced Central Park. He was fascinating to talk to that afternoon.

Mr. Steger is originally from California and has lived in Brooklyn for years. He and his wife, Meg Hitchcock have recently moved their studios to the Hudson River Valley. His works are intended to heal our inner nature (Kurt Steger Bio).

Our next part of the tour took us around the industrial part of East Williamsburg to our next stop to the Brazilian bakery ‘My Sweet’, where the owner Paula Barbosa created her small candy and sweet shop at 630 Flushing Avenue. She is known for her delightful little treat, Brigedeiro, which is a type of Brazilian truffle made with condensed milk, cocoa and butter and slow cooked. These little treats are cooled, rolled into balls and then rolled in nuts or sprinkles. Each is made by hand with much care and each looks like a little jewel. She also has a line of flavored homemade popsicles and Brigedeiro bark made with a combination of the mix with cookies. The prices reflect the work going into them as each Brigedeiro is $2.00, the popsicles are $4.00 and the bark is $3.00 per bag.

My Sweet Bakery

My Sweet Bakery Bushwick

She got into the business when she was giving them away as gifts and people started asking for them. She then took them to a food fair and got a wonderful write-up from the New York Times and the business just took off. She said she was getting calls from people and could not fill the orders fast enough. Now in a three-man team she turns out these special treats to her customers. I wolfed down a bag of her ‘bark’ in about 15 minutes with the help of many of our touring group. A little expensive but well worth it to visit this quirky little shop in the middle of what looks like a happening area. Plus Paula is charming, welcoming and a pleasure to talk to about her product.

We double backed on Grattan Street to Bogart Street and passed the famous pizzeria Roberta’s. I have been wanting to try their pizza for a long time but good luck snagging a table.  The tour guide said it is tough to get into on a weekend. So our trip took us up the road to ‘Syndicated’, a unique restaurant concept at 40 Bogart Street. It is a bar, restaurant and movie theater rolled into one. The front of the building houses the restaurant and bar and the back section is a very nicely decorated theater concept.

Under the direction of Chef Bret Maeris and Managing Partner Tim Chung, they opened this year a very unique watering hole for the neighborhood. Wanting to keep with the tradition of a small independent theater in a neighborhood sorely lacking a movie theater, for $3.00 you can see a movie and order small plates too much on while watching the film. Dennis explained that they are trying to cater to the Millennium crowd while not alienating the older clientele in the area. They had a  Keanu Reeves retrospect recently that was very popular. Like Tim explained to us, the current audience were kids when these movies came out and are nostalgic for them. It is pricey with entrees starting  between $13-$18 but worth it to try for the experience.

Syndicated Theater Bushwick

Syndicated Theater

Tim explained to our group that they are trying to fill a need in the neighborhood. There has to be more entertainment in Bushwick besides bars, so they filled it by adding the theater. The goal is to expand the Bushwick Film Festival and have more places to show movies. Add in people’s love for solid American food and you have a very entertaining concept. The menu includes classics such as fried chicken, burgers, fish and chips and grilled cheese. Great comfort foods for an evening out.

We finally crossed over the border of Flushing Avenue to official Bushwick and turned onto Wyckoff Avenue into an area called ‘JeffTown’ by our tour guide named such because of the subway stop at Jefferson Street. This is where you start to see the more residential side of the neighborhood and the more trendy coffee shops, restaurants and stores. This is the Bushwick that I imagined.

We took a quick tour through the Brooklyn Pop-Up Market at 49 Wyckoff Avenue and explored where small business owners are opening their businesses for the first time to test the waters. It is a unique building of small stores, interesting concepts and people trying to create businesses for the first time. It is worth the trip just to see some of the new food concepts that are opening and interesting gift stores.

Brooklyn Pop Up Shop.jpg

Brooklyn Pop-Up Market

As we turned the corner on Troutman Street, we passed an artist who was commissioned to do a painting on the side of the building and he stopped and graciously stopped to explain the project to us. Debbie, our tour guide explained to us that some ‘street art’ just appears and then is painted over and over again and sometimes the owners commission it. How long this painting would last, who knows? In a neighborhood where ‘taggers’ rein you never know.

Our tour was supposed to end at Union Pizza Works at 423 Troutman Street, a neighborhood pizzeria but everyone had other plans that evening. We took the above group picture in front of a mural on Irving Street and then took a quick walk to the end of our tour at Maria Hernandez Park in the heart of Bushwick. This is where the neighborhood comes alive. We all said our goodbyes here with hugs and pictures.

After everyone left,  I have to be honest, I did not want to go back to some of the restaurants I passed with the $17 pizzas and $12 hamburgers. I wanted to see what the neighborhood was really all about and you see that in true Bushwick with the residents who have been here for years. I entered the yet to be gentrified east side of Bushwick where the Spanish population dominates and ate locally.

Amanda's Kitchen

Amanda’s Kitchen Bushwick

I grabbed some baked goods at Gaby’s Bakery at 238 Knickbocker Avenue on the other side of Maria Hernandez Park and then picked up empanadas’ at Amanda’s Kitchen at 264 Suydam Street and sat in the park and watched the world go by which is something that a $12 hamburger with people who are trying too hard to be hip can’t accomplish. Here was the true Bushwick with everyone intermingling and trying to figure it all out. Even Amanda herself seemed pretty proud when I ordered from her with my broken Spanish. She seemed impressed that I tried so hard.

Gaby's Bakery

Gaby’s Bakery Bushwick

After devouring the Mexican pastries and meat pies, I joined the neighborhood block party that was going on between Knickbocker Avenue and Irving Avenue on Suydam Street. I saw families going about life without a care in the world. Maybe things will change for them in a few years as the gentrification of the area continues and their buildings become more desirable being on the park. For now, they were having a good time just barbecuing, playing games and gossiping with their neighbors.

Isn’t that what life in Brooklyn is all about anyway?

This tour was taken through The Fashion Institute of Technology’s Hot Topics ‘Talks & Tours’ program and was conducted by Deborah Geiger, our tour guide, who is the Director of Content for Envirosell, a consumer shopping behaviorist.

Places to visit:

City of Saints Roasters

297 Meserole Street

Brooklyn, NY  11206

(929) 900-5282

https://www.cityofsaintscoffee.com/

Open: Monday-Friday 7:00am-6:00pm Saturday-Sunday 9:00am-6:00pm

Odetta Gallery

226 Cook Avenue

Brooklyn, NY 11206

(203) 598-1517

http://www.odettagallery.com/

Open: Friday-Sunday 1:00pm-6:00pm/Closed the rest of the week

Syndicated

40 Bogart Street

Brooklyn, NY  11206

(718) 386-3399

https://syndicatedbk.com/

Open: Monday-Thursday 5:00pm-12:00am/Friday 5:00pm-2:00am/Saturday 3:00pm-2:00am/Sunday 3:00pm-12:00pm

Brooklyn Pop-Up Market

49 Wyckoff Avenue

Brooklym. NY  11327

(347) 560-6737

https://www.facebook.com/events/291975887940198/

 

Places to eat:

Gaby’s Bakery

238 Knickerbocker Avenue

Brooklyn, NY  11237

(718) 418-8821

https://gabysbakery.com/

Amanda’s Kitchen

264 Suydam Street

Brooklyn, NY  11237

((347) 488-6297

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60827-d5031796-Reviews-Amanda_Kitchen-Brooklyn_New_York.html?m=19905

My Sweet Bakery

630 Flushing Avenue

Brooklyn, NY  11206

(347) 946-7460

info@mysweet.com

Open: Sunday Closed Monday-Friday 10:00am-5:00pm/Saturday 12:00pm-3:00pm

Roberta’s Pizza

261 Moore Street

Brooklyn, NY  11206

(718) 447-1118

http://www.robertaspizza.com

 

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

Union Pizza Works

423 Troutman Street

Brooklyn, NY  11237

(718) 628-1927

http://www.unionpizzaworks.com/

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day Forty-Four: Walking in Harlem June 9, 2016

I finally crossed the border of Washington Heights into Harlem and I can tell you that border does make a difference in the neighborhoods. Not in a bad way it just seemed to me that there is a different personality to the neighborhood.

I started my walk at the 168th Street subway station and walked down to Amsterdam and 155th Street. In a period of barely a year (six months for that matter), I have seen a whole bunch of businesses close their doors, scaffolding all over buildings both in Washington Heights and Harlem and a rebirth to the area around the CUNY campus. I had even taken walking tours of Harlem as little as eight years ago and have seen a huge change in the area since Mayor Bloomberg rezoned the city. 125th Street is going through a big makeover as the chain stores seem to be taking over the street.

I started my walk in the Trinity Church Cemetery with a visit to my favorite New York Mayor, Ed Koch. He brought so much positive change to New York and was New York in the late 70’s and 80’s. Mayor Koch was still mayor when I came back to work in the city in the 80’s. New York was going through its first wave of gentrification at the time. I had even sent him a copy of my book, ‘Firehouse 101’ of which his office sent a nice not too generic form letter to me thanking me for the book. As far as I know I do not know if he ever read the copy I sent him.

Trinity Church Cemetery

Trinity Cemetery

Still there I was sitting on a bench on a small hill over-looking Amsterdam Avenue paying my respects. It was a quiet moment until school let and then there were kids yelling and screaming all over the place. I then decided to start the rest of the walk. I said my goodbyes to the Mayor, placed a rock on the tombstone and started out of the cemetery and down Amsterdam Avenue.

ed koch grave.jpg

Ed Koch grave site at Trinity Cemetery

My travels today took me down Amsterdam Avenue from 155th Street to 125th Street as my border and then I walked the entire length of 125th Street from the Hudson River to the East River. Then it was back up Amsterdam Avenue to 155th Street and then the walk down Broadway. Needless to say, the journey was long but full of surprises.

Amsterdam Avenue is a street in major transition. It also depends on what part you walk. As you get closer to the CUNY campus around 138th Street the are starts to get even better with small, trendy restaurants and pre-war buildings with sandblasted fronts and new windows. The crowd is certainly getting younger with a lot of students and their parents milling around the street.

One little gem to walk around if it is open is the Hope Stevens Garden at 505 West 142nd Street. The garden was in full bloom but unfortunately the gates were locked at the time.

In 1986, the Hope Steven Community Garden (then known as the West Harlem Group Assistance Garden) was selected to participate in Artists in the Gardens, a project of Green Thumb, the community gardening program sponsored by the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation. From a roster of artists chosen by a panel of art professionals, the gardeners selected Eva Cockcroft to paint a mural on the building facing their garden. In 1998, the garden was sold by the City of New York to the Trust for Public Land for eventual transfer to the newly formed Manhattan Land Trust, thus ensuring its preservation. (Harlem One Stop)

Hope Steven Garden

Hope Stevens Garden

If you get a chance to walk into the garden when it is open it looks like a real treat. The flowers are all in bloom and the bed showcases a colorful assortment of plants.

I stopped a little snack shop, The One Stop Patty Shop at 1708 Amsterdam Avenue (See review on TripAdvisor). This delightful little shop has the best Jamaican meat patties. The spicy beef patty that I munched on as I walked down the road had just come out of the oven. It was flaky, filled with a generous portion of spicy beef and was a nice size patty. It more than filled me up for a quick lunch. The service was really friendly and the staff there takes a lot of pride in their food. The guy was encouraging me to buy more for my trip home. (see my review on TripAdvisor)

My trip took me past of the campus of CUNY where a very active student body was milling around the campus, in the park across the street and eating in the new outdoor cafes that are now dotting Amsterdam Avenue by the campus at 138th Street and Amsterdam Avenue. The campus was a buzz with students socializing and just enjoying a sunny day. There are some interesting restaurants to investigate in the future.

Before I continued down the street, I took a turn on 145th Street to Broadway to try my dining destination for the evening, Handpulled Noodles. It was further up the street but I discovered Grullon #1 Bakery at 3522 Broadway (see review on TripAdvisor). A nice selection of baked goods and traditional Dominican snacks like Pastilitos and croquets. Most of the items had been sitting most of the day. The vanilla iced doughnut I had looked really good but was hard and the hot snacks looked dried out. It was obvious that the store had not seen too much action that day. It warrants another try though as the service was attentive and friendly and the selection of baked goods looks good.

The lower part of Amsterdam Avenue was a collection of public housing and a warehouse district that was transformed into lofts, studios and a few art galleries. What was interesting was that in the middle of a housing project was that a developer was building a mixed use building with luxury apartments. That is going to be an interesting mix of people.

From Amsterdam Avenue, I walked the entire length of 125th Street, considered the heart of Harlem, that since the Bloomberg zoning changes is under the biggest transformation since Times Square was completely knocked down. By the time the transformation is complete, it will more chain stores, hotels, office buildings and the northern branch of Columbia University.

When I walked to the right down 125th Street, most of the former cheaper stores were in the process of closing down and being replaced by new businesses. The controversial new section of Columbia University is being built, replacing some old buildings with sleek new towers. Once done it will be a very impressive campus of glass, steel and new gardens. It will bring a whole new resident to this part of Harlem.

What I thought was progressive was that the campus was surrounding the famous Cotton Club nightclub that sat there in the middle of all this change. It looked totally out of place with a modern campus being built around it and a Dinosaur Barbecue restaurant catering to the college students a block down. Surreal was not the word for it as if anyone from the 20’s walked down this block now would not know where there were in Manhattan. The club was preparing for a show and I saw the performers passing by groups of college students on their way to Riverside Park and the surrounding restaurants.

The Cotton Club has a very interesting past as this is the third Cotton Club in the history of the club. It open in 1920 by Jack Jones, the heavyweight boxing champion as the Club Deluxe. In 1923, bootlegger, Owney Madden bought the club and renamed it the Cotton Club, with a ‘whites only’ policy that lasted until the club closed in 1936. The club has had two other locations and the current club in the present location opened in 1977 (Wiki).

Cotton Club

Cotton Club in Harlem

I passed the projects on the way back down 125th Street where a woman passed me and made a comment under her breathe with a few four letter words enough where she knew I could hear her on her thoughts about policemen. I guess more and more I am realizing that everyone in this part of Manhattan thinks I am a cop or DEA. I remember how fast the drug dealers in the Dykman House projects ran when they saw me coming.

I had taken a recent walking tour of Harlem with the Cornell Club and we covered the areas from 125th Street to 124th Street from 5th Avenue to 7th Avenue and how some of the residents did not appreciate being treated like a curiosity by tourists. Now there are so many white residents in the area and visiting tourists eating in the restaurants that you blend right in.

Be prepared thought more culture shocks as there is a Red Lobster and a Banana Republic on either side of the Apollo Theater and there is a mall like environment between Fredrick Douglas Boulevard and 5th Avenue that will one day be a suburban strip mall environment. It reminds me of the changes going on in downtown Brooklyn as everything is being replaced by chain stores. The local businesses that give it the character of the neighborhood are being pushed out.

The Apollo Theater was built in 1913-14 by architect George Keister in a neo-classical style and opened as Hurtig & Seamon’s New Burlesque Theater with a ‘white’s only’ policy which existed until the 1930’s when it reopened in 1934. It was then open to black patrons as well with a mixture of entertainment.

Apollo Theater

Apollo Theater

The Apollo Theater open in

I passed the famous Hotel Theresa which is now called Theresa Towers. When built in 1912-1913 by German-born stockbroker, Gustavus Sidenberg and it was ‘the’ hotel in Harlem and all the famous black celebrities stayed when they could not stay in the luxury hotels of midtown (Wiki).

Today it has been refitted as an office building with commercial businesses. The building has seen better days but is still impressive and maybe one day someone will get the good idea to convert it back into a hotel like the renovation and reopening of the Hotel Knickerbocker in Times Square. It is an ideal place for a good hotel in the midst of all this change. The building itself has seen better days but like the rest of Harlem it will be catching up to the rest of the city soon.

Hotel Theresa

Hotel Theresa in Harlem

As I walked towards the East River, most of 125th Street is in the process of being either knocked down and renovated. In not even two years, the whole makeup of this area will change as more chain stores and apartment buildings are added to the area. I still can’t believe how run down parts of this area are in comparison to the rest of the city.

The worst is that it is tough to find a public bathroom anywhere in the area. I stopped by a library on 125th Street and there was no public bathroom anywhere in the building. Even the libraries in Washington Heights had bathrooms. I had to hold it in until I found a McDonald’s closer to the Washington Heights border.

My last part of the walk took me back down 125th Street to the Studio Museum at 144 West 125th Street (see review on TripAdvisor and VisitingaMuseum.com) in Harlem where my next walk in the area will include a tour of some of the exhibitions and tours of some of the smaller museums in the area. I passed so many galleries that I wanted to stop in as well.

The Studio Museum of Harlem opened in 1968 to showcase Black artists. The museum is currently closed for construction.

Studio Museum of Harlem.jpg

Studio Museum of Harlem

The CUNY campus had quieted down for the day as I walked back up and the students and their friends filled the parks and restaurants in the area enjoying the warm Spring night.

I got back up to 155th Street, turned the corner and proceeded down Broadway to my dinner destination Handpulled Noodles at 3600 Broadway (see review on TripAdvisor), which bills itself as Northwestern Chinese Soul Food which attracts not only the locals but students and tourists as well. It is considered by many in the Asian community as one of the best Chinese restaurants in New York City.

It is a small hole in the wall restaurant with limited seating in a very energetic environment. The place was loaded with CUNY students who knew the menu by hard. I had the Spicy Cumin Lamb with Lagman noodles (traditional thick cut noodles that are native to Northern China) and their jumbo pork and chive dumplings that melt in your mouth and are out of this world.

The lamb was very spicy and you could taste the cumin in every bite. This is not the traditional Cantonese restaurant so do not look for fried rice and egg rolls. It is more of a cross between Indian and Mongolian cooking. There menu is very unusual with more stew like dishes like the cumin lamb, ginger chicken and herbal beef. The service is friendly and very fast paced to keep up with the large dinner crowds in such a small space. (see my review on TripAdvisor)

I had a interesting talk with someone from the neighborhood who worked renovating brownstones in the area and talked about the local real estate market. He told me that if you had bought even five years ago, you could have made your money back quickly after a renovation. The whole area above 125th Street is in a major state of transformation that happens even month by month as I have seen in a six month period in Washington Heights as old family businesses and small restaurants give way to coffee bars and fancy shops and galleries. Even he said it is not the Harlem it was last year.

My walk concluded with a subway ride back down to 42nd Street with a game plan to cover the rest of the area above 125th Street as my border for this part of the project. There are so many pocket museums and parks to cover and explore.

Places to Visit:

Trinity Church Cemetery

770 Riverside Drive

New York, NY  10032

(212) 368-1600

https://www.trinitywallstreet.org/cemetery-mausoleum

Hope Stevens Garden

505 West 142nd Street between Amsterdam and Hamilton Place

New York, NY  10031

https://www.harlemonestop.com/organization/1037/hope-stevens-garden

Studio Museum of Harlem

144 West 125th Street

New York, NY  10027

(212) 864-4500

https://www.studiomuseum.org/

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g60763-d116230-Reviews-The_Studio_Museum_in_Harlem-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

My review on VisitingaMuseum.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/visitingamuseum.com/1405

Apollo Theater

253 West 125th Street

New York, NY  10027

(212) 531-5305

https://www.apollotheater.org/

Hotel Theresa

2070-2080 Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Boulevard

New York, NY  10024

http://www.neighborhoodpreservationcenter.org/db/bb_files/Hotel-Theresa–now-Theresa-Towers-.pdf

Cotton Club

656 West 125th Street

New York, NY  10027

(212) 623-7980

http://cottonclub-newyork.com/

Places to eat:

The One Stop Patty Shop

1708 Amsterdam Avenue

New York, NY  10031

(212) 491-7466

https://www.facebook.com/pages/1-Stop-Patty-Shop/421985874602159

Handpulled Noodles

3600 Broadway

New York, NY  10031

(917) 262-0213

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d8054569-Reviews-The_Handpulled_Noodle_Harlem-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

Grullon #1 Bakery

3522 Broadway

New York, NY 10031

(646) 329-5495

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d10424741-Reviews-Grullon_1_Bakery-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

Day Fourteen: Walking in Southern Washington Heights September 16th, 2015

I finally finished the area on the western side of Broadway from 178th Street to 164th Street. It was a long day of walking. I also covered the entire lengths of Haven Avenue and Fort Washington Avenue past Columbia Presbyterian Hospital, which pretty much dominates over this area. There is a pretty distinct line in the neighborhood once you cross over 180th Street and you get to 165th Street, which is the border of the ever-changing Dominican neighborhood and the Hospital neighborhood. Things become much more commercial and a little upscale below 165th Street as it caters to the hospital staff.

Even the housing stock changes. The area around the hospital you can tell caters to the staff and the guests and once over the 168th Street border, it goes back to Dominican neighborhood. Between Yeshiva University and the hospital, this area you can see is going through a rapid flux. The streets are full of such beautiful, classic housing stock and if it were in the lower 90’s on both sides would be snatched up for more than double the price. The stone work along on some of the buildings with pillars and statuary brings almost an European feel to this area. I call the changes the ‘new window’ theory. When ever you see new window frames in an older building, you know the area is changing. The gentrifying cliché of white people walking their dogs or jogging rings so true around here. I see the looks in the faces of the guys playing dominoes in the park and their eyes roll.

I got up today as classes were letting out at PS 173 across from J. Hood Wright Park. The streets were lined with well-dressed students yelling and screaming at one another all over the street. The school is very impressive looking almost like an Ivy League school with its beautiful stonework and pillared entrance. It compliments the park very nicely.

J. Hood Wright Park, the former estate of banker and financier, J. Hood Wright is located between 176th Street to 173rd Street and has gone through an over two million dollar renovation. The park was full of action this afternoon. People were walking their dogs, sunbathing by the rock formations and reading on the backside park with the most spectacular  views of the George Washington Bridge. The park has a dog walk in the back, a baseball and basketball court and walking paths that wind the whole park.

The best was all the street vendors outside the school. You had your choice of soft serve ice cream, shaved flavored ices, freshly fried Pastelitos (meat pies) and fresh fruit. The shaved ice is the best on a humid day. I had a mango-strawberry ice that was so refreshing. You can also get three very sweet peaches for a dollar.

It was nice to just sit in the park and relax, watching kids chase each other around the playground and eating their snacks while dog walkers compared notes. I stopped by Mambi Steak House at 4181 Broadway at 177nd Street, a Dominican restaurant that is very popular in the neighborhood. The fresh Pastelitos are great and there is a nice selection of other take out items as well. On the hot line, there are all sorts of lunch specials such as beef, chicken and codfish stew, pepper steak, eggplant and lasagna. Wonderful smells wafted through the entire restaurant. With two Pastelitos and a coke in hand, I walked the lengths of Haven Avenue and Fort Washington Avenues and the side streets from 164th Street to 178th Street. The streets were lined with the most amazing pre-war apartment buildings and a lot of rebuilding and renovations especially around the hospital.

I concluded my walk at La Dinastia Restaurant at 4181 Broadway on the corner of Broadway and 171st Street, a Dominican-Chinese restaurant. This restaurant is great. The pictures on the window of the place don’t do it justice. I had a boneless chicken crackling with a special fried rice. The chicken cracklings had a breading that was a cross between a tempura and fried chicken with spices and the special fried rice was full an array of ingredients such as shrimp, ham, chicken, sausage and vegetables. The meal was huge. They gave me about eight large pieces of chicken with almost a pint of fried rice. It was a meal you cannot finish  at one sitting and it made almost three meals. The restaurant is well worth the trip with the combination of flavors and fusion of Spanish and Chinese cuisine. It will be worth a second trip.

The walk concluded the area from 164th Street to 178th Street west of Broadway. The next part will be the area east of Broadway from 193rd on down. I hope for good weather.

Places to visit:

Don’t miss the view of 181st Street toward the George Washington Bridge

J. Hood Wright Park

173rd Street at Haven Avenue and Fort Washington Avenue

 

Places to Eat:

La Dinastia Restaurant

4059 Broadway at 171st Street

New York, NY  10032

(212) 928-6605

http://www.ladinastiany.com

http://www.ladinastiany.com/

Open: Monday-Thursday-11:30am-10:30pm/Friday-Sunday-11:30am-10:00pm

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d534262-Reviews-La_Dinastia_II-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

 

Mambi Steak House

4181 Broadway

New York, NY  10033

(212) 928-9796

Open: 24 hours a day

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d3605814-Reviews-Mambi_Restaurant-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905