Tag Archives: Walking around Manhattan

Day One Hundred and Forty: Walking the Streets of Turtle Bay from East 58th Street to East 44th Street June 26th- July 12th, 2019

I covered the edges and the Avenues of Turtle Bay recently and it was time to walk all the streets. To cover the rather odd shaped part of the neighborhood, I walked from East 58th Street to East 48th from Lexington Avenue to Second Avenue first and on the second part of the walk, I covered from East 47th  to East 44th Streets from Lexington Avenue to the East River on the second part of the walk to complete the neighborhood. I criss crossed some of the same blocks so I might be pointing things out for a second time that you should not miss seeing. Even amongst the all the modern architecture, there are many beautiful things to admire here.

It is an interesting mix of buildings and residential use and a neighborhood in much transition as it is becoming more commercial and more like Midtown as the small neighborhood feel is surrounded by glass tower apartment buildings and offices. The side streets still keep a localized charm while the Avenues have given way to the big towers. Here you can see the distinct difference in the Upper West Side and the Upper East Side. The West Side has not lost that charm on the Avenues.

I started the walk revisiting 58th Street and walked past all the bath and home design shops that line the street. It is an interesting block of old brownstones and prewar apartment buildings fitted for all the small businesses. One stand out on the block was Bon Vivant at 231 East 58th Street Petit Fours and drinks (See reviews on TripAdvisor and LittleShoponMainStreet@Wordpress.com).

Bon Vivant II

Bon Vivant’s display

This charming little bakery had the most whimsical little cakes for $3.50 for a small and $6.50 for a large. The cakes come in various flavors but do try the Lavender with its fusion of lavender petals and sweet fondant outside studded with flavors. Its a nice place to eat in and just watch the street traffic go by.

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Their delicious Lavender Cake

At the end of the block on the corner of Lexington Avenue and East 58th Street is the Bloomberg Building at 731 Lexington Avenue. Designed by architect Cesar Pelli & Associates, the building opened in 2004 to house the Bloomberg Company headed by former Mayor Michael Bloomberg. The building holds the offices and meeting areas for the company as well as the back part of the building which is connected by a seven story courtyard to hold the residences. This impressive building replaced the empty and now defunct Alexander’s Department Store which had closed years earlier.

730 Lexington Avenue

The impressive Bloomberg Tower dominates the northwest corner of the Turtle Bay neighborhood

As you round Lexington Avenue onto East 57th Street, you will notice the mix of old and new buildings with a collection of old grand hotels and modern office buildings. The street itself is lined with all sorts of businesses catering to the busy Midtown customer. On stand out business is Royal-Athena Galleries at 153 East 57th Street (See my review on LittleShoponMainStreet@Wordpress.com), which carries ancient Egyptian, Roman and Greek art of museum quality at all prices.

It is part museum and part store. It is like visiting the Metropolitan Museum of Art and seeing price tags on all the art work. Everything here is authenticated and anything over $5,000 is registered with the Art Loss Registry in London so you know where it comes from. Don’t miss walking through the gallery cases and tables to see all the beautiful items.

Royal-Athena Galleries II

Royal-Athena Gallery

Also part of the shopping district is the iconic Hammacher Schlemmer store at 147 East 57th Street, which has been in this location since 1926. The company was founded in New York City as a hardware store for finding hard to find tools in 1848 in the Bowery district downtown. The company was founded by Charles Tollner and R. Stern with Albert Hammacher investing in the company in 1859. William Schlemmer bought out Charles Tollner part of the company in the 1860’s. It stayed in the family until 1953 when it was sold to investors (Company History).

The store is like a playground for adults with all sorts of unusual items on sale like fishing equipment, survival kits, transportation vehicles and clothing and accessories not found in the department stores.

Hammerslemmer Store

The Hammacher Schlemmer store at 147 East 57th street

Rounding the corner on Second Avenue towards East 56th Street, you will pass the unassuming High School of Art & Design which is closed for the school year except for a few students taking summer classes and their gallery which is still open to the public. I went to see the “Honors Illustration Show” in the John B. Kenny Gallery, which was still opened when I was walking the neighborhood.

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The High School of Art & Design

I only got to spend about a half hour viewing the show which dealt in different media forms with the theme of social justice, social media, racism and phobias in modern society. The graduating students created their works in all media aspects including painting and quilts, which I thought was interesting.

High School of Art and Design Gallery Show

The John B. Kenny Gallery at the High School of Art & Design

The Kenny Gallery was named after John B. Kenny who was one of four art teachers that founded the school in 1936. He became principal of the school in 1941. Originally named the School of Industrial Arts, the name was changed to the High School of Art & Design in 1960 when the school moved to its currently location (School History page).

After saying my goodbyes to the security staff for letting me spend time alone in the gallery I turned the corner at Lexington Avenue and walked down East 55th Street towards Second Avenue again. I passed the Central Synagogue, which is the second oldest continuous Synagogue in New York and the oldest in the City. Designed by architect Henry Fernbach between 1870-72, the building was designed in Moorish Revival.

Central Synagogue.jpg

I admired the Central Synagogue on the corner of Lexington Avenue and East 55th Street

Walking down the street, I revisited some of the sites I had seen before. On the corner of Third Avenue and East 55th is the original P.J. Clarke’s Restaurant at 915 Third Avenue which was jammed with people for happy hour.

P.J. Clarke's

P.J. Clarke’s has been in this location since 1884

This famous restaurant has been in business since 1884 and is named after Patrick J. Clarke who bought it from the original owner after ten years of working there. The restaurant is currently privately owned. When you look at the structure, the building is a holdout wraparound of 919 Third Avenue when the rest of the block was torn down. The building was built around the bar. This makes it really stand out.

Look for the sculpture, ‘Red Flying Group’ in front of 909 Third Avenue by artist Ann Gillen. This unusual sculpture really stands out for it’s bold design. Ms. Gillen was raised in Brooklyn and is a graduate of both Pratt and Columbia University. As an artist, she is noted for her use of Greek theory of matter which uses geometric forms to explain spatial relationships. When she creates a piece, she considers the work’s axis, resistance to gravity, the manner of construction and the color dynamic. This really shows in this particular piece (Wiki and Artist Bio).

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The Red Flying Group outside of 909 Third Avenue

Making the next turn onto East 54th Street from Second to Third Avenue on the corner of Third Avenue that stretches from East 54th to East 53rd is the well-known ‘Lipstick Building’. The building was completed in 1986 by John Burgee Architects with Philip Johnson and is called the ‘Lipstick Building’ because of the ‘set-backs’ that were required by the zoning laws for use of light. With its oval design and pinkish hue it almost looks like a retracting lipstick. An oval building really stands out among the rest of the glass boxes along Third Avenue (Wiki and Builders history). The building had been featured in the papers recently  being the offices of Bernie Madoff and his major Ponzi scheme.

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The Lipstick Building that looks like a ‘contracting lipstick’

When crossing back from East 54th to East 53rd by Lexington Avenue again please notice all the turn of the last century architecture in both the office buildings and hotels (See this on Day One Hundred & Thirty Eight Walking the borders and Avenues June 2019). This line of hotels was built to accommodate the railroad patrons coming into New York City from Grand Central Station.

At 599 Lexington Avenue in the lobby of the building at the corner of Lexington Avenue and East 53rd Street, look into the glass lobby and notice the colorful sculpture “Salto nel Mio Sacco” by New York artist Frank Stella. This colorful ad whimsical piece translates to ‘Jump into my Sack’ (Art Nerd).

Salto nel mio Sacco

Salto nel mio sacco’ by Frank Stella

Frank Stella is a New York City artist who had worked in many mediums before being influenced by the abstract artists of the 50’s and 60’s like Jasper Johns. His use of many materials and colors reflex in his art work. This piece which is made in aluminum and colorful paints in a three-dimensional form with all different shapes on top of one another. This bold work was quoted by the artist in saying, “the essential issue is to have a sense of form without it being illustrational, to make things that impress the eyesight and have an impact”. (New York Times McGill 1986).

Walking towards Second Avenue into the heart of Turtle Bay, you will notice a series of excellent restaurants on both side of the street. You will also begin to notice more brownstones and small apartment buildings which gives this part of Turtle Bay its character which is rapidly disappearing. You can wonder amongst the ethnic restaurants and small retail stores tucked into the block.

East 52nd Street offers its charms as well full of brownstones and small apartment buildings. The Consulate of Hungary takes up a large portion between Second and Third Avenues and tall office buildings line the Avenue.

Look up and notice the detailed stone work of 240 East 52nd Street with its carved windows and stone faces staring at you from every direction as you pass by. The building was built in 1900 and is considered an “Old Law Tenement” which means that it is built in a dumbbell shape to let in natural light and fresh air.

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240 East 52nd Street in Turtle Bay

At the end of the block as you walk down Lexington Avenue to East 51st Street is the famous subway grates that were featured in the 1955 movie, “The Seven Year Itch” with Marilyn Monroe. The famous scene was shot here at night and took 14 times to film to get it right.

Marilyn Monroe Subway Grate

The grates today that I walked on top of and did not know.

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The famous 1955 scene in the movie

When walking down East 51st Street from Lexington Avenue you will notice more hotels popping up not just on the Avenue but on the side streets as well being refigured into older buildings. I revisited the old RCA Headquarters at 570 Lexington Avenue which was designed by architects Cross & Cross in the Gothic style. You really have to look up and around the building to see the details in it. Try to look at the building from a distance to see its sculpture work and admire the ‘GE’ clock outside the entrance.

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570 Lexington Avenue designed in the Gothic Style

One place that I found and is such a nice place to just sit and relax is the Greenacre Park at 217 East 51st Street. This wonderful little park is situated between two buildings and has nice shade trees and benches to relax on and go down the stairs and you will come to a waterfall and streams on the side where the water replenishes itself.

Greenacre Park was built between 1970 and 1971 by Abby Rockefeller Mauze, who founded the Greenacre Foundation in 1971 who still maintains the park. The park was designed by architect Hideo Sasaki and Harmon Goldstone. The park is privately owned but open to the public (Greenacre Foundation).

Greenacre Park

The park is composed of three levels. The lowest level has a 25 foot waterfall composed of huge sculptured granite blocks with the east wall trickling down its face to form a brook along the sidewalk. The central level is landscaped with locust trees and small chairs and tables and then there is a raised terrace which has a trellis roof to protect park goers and there is a small snack shop, Carol’s Cafe, (See review on TripAdvisor) offering a variety of refreshments (Greenacre Foundation).

I ate at Carol’s Cafe one afternoon when visiting the neighborhood and the food is very good. I had a cheeseburger ($8.95) that was loaded with fresh veggies and one of the coldest cans of Coke ($1.00) I had in a long time. It was fun to eat at one of the tables and just relax (Beware though and check your bill. These people can Bait and Switch on posting their prices).

Carol's Cafe Greenacre Park

Carol’s Cafe offers delicious food at reasonable prices but check your bill!

Across the street from the park is another really nice and very reasonable restaurant, The Pho 6 at 222 East 51st Street (See review on TripAdvisor and DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com). It is a Vietnamese restaurant offering some of the simplest and freshest food since my trip to Vietnam back in 2016.

The Pho 6

The Pho 6 for very reasonable Vietnamese food

The room is done all in woods and the walls, tables and chairs are all made of the same material which makes for interesting decor. The food is delicious. I had an order of Pork Spring Rolls ($6.00) which were crisp and full of ground pork and fresh veggies and Vermicelli Noodles with grilled Shrimp ($10.00) which was studded with fresh shrimp and topped with assorted greens. The whole meal was wonderful and very reasonable for what I ate.

Pho 6 Springrolls

The delicious Pork Spring Rolls at The Pho 6

After lunch, I continued to walk down East 51st Street to round Lexington Avenue again to East 50th Street and look at the details and renovations of the old hotels lining this part of the Avenue. The Waldorf-Astoria which sits between East 50th and 49th Streets is currently going though a major renovation to make it part hotel and part condo.

Waldorf-Astoria Hotel II

 

The Waldorf-Astoria Hotel

The Waldorf-Astoria at 301 Park Avenue was opened in 1931 replacing the original hotel where the Empire State Building now sits. The hotel was designed in Art Deco design by architects Schultz & Weaver. The hotel when finished will contain 350 condos and 350 hotel rooms with most of the public rooms reopened. It will be interesting to see the results.

The Benjamin Hotel at 125 East 50th Street sits across from the Waldorf-Astoria and recently went through a major renovation and is open for business. The former Hotel Beverly was built between 1926-27 by architect Emery Roth and was designed in Romanesque Motif with pelican and owl sculptures around it. The hotel currently was named after Benjamin J. Denihan Sr., who is the new owner of the hotel (New York Landmarks).

Benjamin Hotel

The Hotel Benjamin

The rest of East 50th Street is dotted with mom and pop businesses, pre-war apartment buildings and Consulates being so close to the United Nations. Here and there their are still brownstones letting you know that Turtle Bay is exists along side the commercial district.

East 49th Street is graced by The Barclay InterContinental Hotel which sits at the entrance of the neighborhood at 111 East 48th Street. The hotel stretches from East 49th to East 48th Streets. Designed by architects Cross & Cross in 1926 in the neo-Federal Colonial Style the hotel was part of Terminal City as part of the Grand Central complex and had been owned by the Vanderbilt family (Wiki).

Barclay Hotel

The InterContinental Barclay Hotel

Walking down East 49th Street to Third Avenue you will see the historic Smith & Wollensky Restaurant at 797 Third Avenue which has been serving the neighborhood since 1897 when it was called Manny Wolf’s Steakhouse. The restaurant was opened by Allan Stillman, the founder of T.G.I. Friday’s in 1977 and who still owns the original restaurant (the rest of the chain is privately owned). Known for their USDA Grade A Prime Meats, the restaurant is still a popular neighborhood institution (Company History and Wiki).

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This building like the rest of the neighborhood has seen the change in times as it too is surrounded by a glass skyscraper.

On the corner of East 48th Street and Third Avenue it is easy to miss the sculpture ‘Etazin’ by artist Katherine Werner sitting in front of an office building.

Etazin

‘Etazin’ by artist Katherine Werner

Ms. Werner is a Manhattan based fine artist who studied at the Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture. She has created what is called ‘interactive art’ with the ‘Etazin’ an outdoor lounge chair. She was quoted by saying she was creating “large pieces that were both beautiful and useful.” (JustLux 2017)

Further down the street is lined with brownstones which is the back part of the Turtle Bay Gardens that line East 48th Street. The lovely stretch of brownstones is residential and also houses more Consulates. Many of these historic homes were built in the 1860’s.

When you double back to Third Avenue look up at 780 Third Avenue to the murals by Brazilian graffiti artist, Eduardo Korba, who has three murals in the neighborhood. The one on the right side of the building on East 49th Street is of an exhausted fire fighter who fought bravely on 9/11. The 343 represents the number of fire fighters killed that day and pays honor to them.

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The 9/11 Tribute to Fallen Fire Fighters by Eduardo Korba on the East 49th Street side of the building

On the other side of the building is another mural by Mr. Korba “Genius is to Bike Ride”, which is a commentary of the new bike lanes in New York City. Mr. Korba is weighing in on the debate of adding bicycle lanes on New York streets to relieve traffic. The mural is of Albert Einstein riding a bicycle. Einstein was rumored to have come up with some of his best ideas while riding a bicycle (780 Third Avenue building history).

Eduardo Korba Mural II

“Genius is to Bike Ride” by Eduardo Korba on the East 48th Street side of the building

As I finished that afternoon at East 48th Street, I walked past these murals again taking a good glance of the vibrant colors, the detail work and the message each was trying to tell of the City. Mr. Korba knows how to tell a story in his paintings.

I finished walking down East 49th Street and stopped abruptly to see the building at 225-227 East 49th Street. It looked like a creepy old fraternity house. It was built in 1900 as a Converted Dwelling/Rooming House and now contains apartments. Look at the writing carved in the doorway from 1926 and unusual coat of arms that greets you at the doorway with the words “Erected in the Dear (or could be door) 1926”, what ever that means carved over the entrance-way. It looks more like ‘enter if you dare’.

225 East 49th Street

225-227 East 49th Street

I completed the top part of the neighborhood by walking part the Turtle Bay Garden Historic District homes again, looking at these historic brownstones that were built in the 1860’s and how luck they were saved by Charlotte Hunnewell Sorchan in the 1920’s. She bought these twelve historic homes, renovated them to modern feel and restored them to their former glory combining the homes with the brownstones on East 49th Street so that they all looked out on a common garden. Don’t miss admiring the work that was done on them and that the owners still continue into today.

Turtle Bay history II

The Turtle Bay Gardens Historic District on East 48th Street between Second and Third Avenues

At 237 East 48th Street at the Turtle Bay Gardens Historic District there is a plaque to Dorothy Thompson, a journalist who lived in the home from 1941-1957. Her novel “I saw Hitler” and her column ‘One the Record’ were influential in calling for the intervention of America into World War II. She was one of the first female foreign  corespondents in the 1930’s  and had been expelled from Germany right before the war.

Dorothy Thompson Journalist

Dorothy Thompson, Turtle Bay resident, journalist and foreign corespondent

Also near the brownstones is a modern home by William Lescaze at 211 East 48th Street, the Father of the Modernist Movement and the designer and builder of this historic home that served as his living quarters and studio. It may not seem that radical today but it was when it was designed in 1934.

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The William Lescaze House at 211 East 48th Street

I finished my first day of walking the streets of the upper part of the neighborhood and I was exhausted by the heat. The weather had gotten to me. Turtle Bay has a lot to do and see. Here and there is tucked another gem that you can only see by walking around the neighborhood.

I came back to explore the streets of Turtle Bay after a long day in the Soup Kitchen. They had me working in the prep kitchen making salads and cutting vegetables for the next day’s service so I was tired when I arrived in the neighborhood. It was a little cooler then the first day around 80 degrees so it was more pleasant to walk around and take my time.

I started with lunch at Lin’s Gourmet Chinese Restaurant at 1097 Second Avenue by 57th Street (See my reviews on TripAdvisor and DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com). This was my second time at the restaurant having lunch and I highly recommend it. I order the Shredded Beef with Hot Spicy Sauce with pork fried rice and hot & sour soup ($8.25). The food was excellent and perfect on a hot day as it seemed to cool me down.

Lin's Gourmet Chinese Cusine.jpg

The beef was cut in very thin slices like the accompanying vegetables and was cooked with hot chilies to give it some bite. The dish was studded with shredded carrots and celery so it was a nice combination of flavors. They did not skip on the beef and it was a generous portion. The hot & sour soup also had its share of chilies and the whole meal woke me up and I was ready to walk again.

After lunch, I started my day walking down First Avenue to East 47th Street and started by taking a break in Dag Hammarskjold Plaza, which I had read was the comprise of the grand entrance to the United Nations complex. This popular park is full of nice shade trees, benches, a small restaurant and the Katharine Hepburn Garden.

The park and many of the surrounding buildings to the park were named after Dag Hjalmar Agne Carl Hammarskjold who was born in 1905 to the former Prime Minister of Sweden in World War One, Hjalmar Hammarskjold. Mr. Hammarskjold had served many government and educational positions over the years in Sweden until 1953 when he was asked to serve as Secretary-General of the United Nations. His work in Middle East Peace talks, involvement in the Suez Canal dispute and work in operations in the Republic of Congo earned him a reputation in the United Nations. He died in a plane crash near Norther Rhodesia in 1961 and was post humorously awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1961 (NYCParks.org).

Dag Hammarskjold

Dag Hammarskjold

Dag Hammarskjold Plaza has been part of the NYC Parks system since the land was acquired in 1948 and was renamed for him in 1961. In 1997, the park had a major reconstruction which created a symmetrical layout from north to south. The same year the Katharine Hepburn Garden was created on the south side of the park. The Friends of  Dag Hammarskjold Plaza was formed to raise funds for the park, organize events and keep the place clean (NYCParks.org).

Dag Hammarskjold Park

Dag Hammarskjold Plaza in Turtle Bay

The Katharine Hepburn Garden which is inside of the park is a quiet oasis from the hustle of the city. Ms. Hepburn, one of most accomplished American actors, moved to Turtle Bay in 1932 with her then husband, Ludlow Ogden Smith, had joined the Turtle Bay Association in 1957 and was instrumental in keeping construction from encroaching into the neighborhood. In 1997, the community got together and dedicated this garden in her honor for the work she did in the neighborhood and for her love of gardening and flowers. It is so peaceful to walk along this path and just look at the plantings.

Katharine Hepburn Garden

Katharine Hepburn Garden

Across the street from Dag Hammarskjold Plaza is the Japan Society at 337 East 48th Street. It was founded in 1907 to promote friendly relationships with the United States and over the years has promoted Japanese art and culture, held lectures and hosted Japanese dignitaries and royalty. During the strained times of World War II, the Society did not take sides politically and closed for time. In 1971, under the direction of then President John D. Rockefeller III the organization grew and a new building was opened, the Japan House, designed by architect Junzo Yushimura. It became the first building in New York of Japanese contemporary design. It now hosts many exhibitions and social functions. When I was visiting the neighborhood, they were promoting their film festival which I attended. That was a lot of fun.

I saw four excellent films including the release of the musical “Dance with Me” which was a light weight and fun musical. The director knew what he was doing when he wanted to create escapism from the troubles outside. I can’t wait for the Society to open their Fall exhibition.

Japan Society

Japan Society

Watch ‘Dance with Me’ the opening film to the Film Festival

At the end of the block right on the island on First Avenue in front of the United Nations Building is the monument to Raoul Wallenberg. You could almost miss them (I did twice looking for them) but they stand like so many black pillars in a row at 300-386 East 47th Street.

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The Raoul Wallenberg Monument

Raoul Wallenberg was a Swedish citizen who was educated in the United States in the 1930’s and when he returned to Europe was recruited by the U. S. Refugee Board to go to Hungary to save as many Hungarian Jews as possible. His and his colleagues efforts help save over 100,000 Jewish citizens by issuing protection from the Swedish Government. His own ending was more tragic in that when the Soviets entered Budapest he disappeared (Wiki).

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Raoul Wallenberg, the Swedish Diplomat

The monument by designers Gustav  and Ulla Kraitz are made of Swedish black disbase and bronze and were dedicated in 1998. Take time to look at the inscriptions on each of the five pillars. Gustav Kraitz is from Hugary and studied at the Art Academy in Budapest when the war broke out. He fled to Sweden in 1956 after the invasion of Hugary and stayed on as a visiting professor. There he met his wife, Ulla and they continue their art work together and apart.

Gastov and Ulla Karitz

Artists Gastov and Ulla Karitz

A store that stood out when walking past it was the Gabrielle Carlson Studio at 501 Lexington Avenue near East 47th Street. The clothes in the window really stand out for the vibrant and almost jewel like colors in deep greens, red and purples. The side tables are lined with custom ‘Made in New York’ jewelry. If you are lucky to meet Ms. Carlson like I did she can give you advice and help dress you for the office or a nice evening out on the town.

Gabrielle Carlson Studio

A satisfied customer outside Gabrielle Carlson Studio

As I walked down East 46th Street I passed Sparks Steakhouse at 210 East 46th Street. Well known for their food and service it was also the spot of the assassination of ‘Big” Paul Castellano, the Boss of the Gambino Crime Family in December 1985. This ‘hit’ took place right outside the restaurant and the gunmen fled down Second Avenue. This still casts a shadow on an excellent restaurant for those of us who remember the incident.

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Sparks Steak House

Right down the road there is a group of buildings, the Blue Buildings at 222 East 46th Street that house offices and art galleries. They just stand out for being brownstones painted blue.

Blue Buildings

The Blue Buildings at 222 East 46th Street

Artwork seems like it is all over this neighborhood especially when I crossed onto East 45th Street and was greeted by the painting “Youth Employment” tucked into the side of the building by artist Cenzano.

Youth Employment

Youth Employment by Cenz

When walking in the other direction on East 44th Street I saw the painting by artist Faith XLVII , “Gender Equality”.

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‘Gender Equality’ by Faith XLVII

These paintings that were created so close to the United Nations to promote programs such as youth employment, child labor laws, green jobs, gender equality at work and forced labor (Brooklyn Street Art).

Faith XLVII is an international artist who is based in Los Angeles. Through her works she attempts to disarm the strategies of global realpolitik in order to advance the expression of personal truth. In this way her work is both an internal and spiritual release that speaks to the complexities of human condition its deviant histories and existential search (Artist Bio).

I passed ‘Zuma’ again in front of the Nigerian Consulate created by artist Billy Omebegho and have to say it does pack a punch.

Zuma

Zuma outside the Consulate of Nigeria

I finished my walk at the James P. Grant Plaza at East 44th Street and First Avenue. I needed a rest from all the walking and from the heat. The cool waterfalls and chairs to relax in.

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James P. Grant Plaza

This little pocket park adjoins the UNICEF Building and was dedicated to former Director of UNICEF, James P. Grant who worked tirelessly to combat preventable childhood illness and a ‘childhood survival and development revolution’ (NYCPark.org).

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James P. Grant visionary

By the time I got to East 44th Street I was exhausted . The summer heat was getting to me and I had to rewalk the neighborhood several times to go back to things I wanted to see for a second time. Turtle Bay offers so many wonderful things to see if you look up and around. They are tucked here and there, in corners of parks, on the sides of buildings, in front of you on the sidewalk or if you just look up at the structure of the that building that you have passed a hundred times.

The street art alone makes Turtle Bay its own open air museum and it is nice to see so many perspectives on life from so many artists of all ages ranging from the traditional to the contemporary that I have learned a lot from them. Walking around this neighborhood is not just enjoyable but entertaining but educational as well. The United Nations has done its job here bringing together so many visionaries into the neighborhood.

For more information on my walk in the Turtle Bay neighborhood, please read my entry in ‘MywalkinManhattan.com-Day One Hundred and Thirty-Eight: Walking the Borders of Turtle Bay

https://wordpress.com/post/mywalkinmanhattan.com/9125

 

Don’t miss my favorite scene from “Dance with Me” the opening number “Happy Valley”

 

Places to Eat:

Bon Vivant

231 East 58th Street

New York, NY  10022

(646) 481-4044

Open: Sunday & Monday Closed/Tuesday-Friday 9:30am-7:30pm/Saturday 9:20am-6:30pm

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d12375755-Reviews-Bon_Vivant_New_York-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

My review on LittleShoponMainStreet@Wordpress.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/littleshoponmainstreet.wordpress.com/253

 

Lin’s Gourmet Chinese Restaurant

1097 Second Avenue

New York, NY  10022

(212) 752-5586/5580

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

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d3455831-Reviews-Lin_s_Gourmet_Chinese_Cuisine-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

My review on DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/diningonashoestringinnyc.wordpress.com/1144

 

The Pho 6

222 East 51st Street

New York, NY  10022

(917) 261-5050

Open:  Monday-Friday 11:30am-9:30pm/Saturday & Sunday 12:00pm-9:30pm

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d17307202-Reviews-The_Pho_6-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

My review on DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/diningonashoestringinnyc.wordpress.com/1186

 

Carol’s Cafe

217 East 51st Street (inside Greenacre Park)

New York, NY  10022

(917) 775-0535

Open:  Sunday-Saturday 9:00am-4:00pm

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d17734733-Reviews-Carol_s_Cafe-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

 

Places to Visit:

 

High School of Art & Design

John B. Kenny Gallery

245 East 56th Street

New York, NY  10022

(212) 752-4340

http://www.artanddesignhs.org/

Open: When the school is open

Fee: Free

 

Japan Society

333 East 47th Street

New York, NY  10017

(212) 832-1155

https://www.japansociety.org/

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

Fee: Call Museum

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g60763-d144064-Reviews-Japan_Society-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

 

Dag Hammarskjold Plaza/Katharine Hepburn Garden

245 East 47th Street

New York, NY  10017

(212) 639-9675

https://www.nycgovparks.org/parks/dag-hammarskjold-plaza

Open: 6:00am-1:00am

 

Greenacre Park

217 East 51st Street

New York, NY  10022

(212) 648-5895

Home – NY Times

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

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g60763-d2441426-Reviews-Greenacre_Pocket_Park-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

 

Places to Shop:

Royal-Athena Galleries

153 East 57th Street

New York, NY  10022

(212) 355-2034/Fax (212) 688-0412

ancientart@aol.com

http://www.royalathena.com

http://www.royalathena.com/

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

 

Hammacher-Schlemmer

147 East 57th Street

New York, NY  10022

(212) 421-9001

Open: Sunday 11:00-6:00pm/Monday-Saturday 10:00am-7:00pm

https://www.hammacher.com/home

 

Gabrielle Carlson Studio

501 Lexington Avenue

New York, NY  10017

(917) 514-4433

http://www.gabriellecarlson.com/

Open: Sunday-Saturday 11:00am-6:00pm

My review on LittleShoponMainStreet@Wordpress.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/littleshoponmainstreet.wordpress.com/310

 

The Street Art Work and Architectural Buildings are too numerous to name but I gave the best directions to see everything. Like I said, Turtle Bay is an open air museum with loads of public art to see. Just look up and you won’t miss anything.

 

 

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Day One Hundred and Thirty Four: Walking Sutton Place from East 59th Street to East 48th Street from Second Avenue to FDR Drive and the East River March 29th, 2019-June 7th, 2019

The bitter winter finally gave way to some warmer weather and I was finally able to continue walking the streets of Manhattan again. It had been almost three months since I finished the Upper West Side but the holidays were particularly busy and full of activities that had me running from the Hudson River Valley to Rehoboth Beach, Delaware for Christmas plus a host of holiday activities, fundraisers, dinners at the house with my  family, parties, selling Christmas trees and generally a lot of running around. On the first warm (at this point 48 degrees) and sunny day, off I went to continue my walk starting on the Upper East Side and revisiting East 59th Street.

After a long day at the Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen serving up breads and pastries to the guests, I walked up to the Upper East Side to start my walk of Sutton and Beekman Places by the East River, neighborhoods steeped in history and beautiful architecture.  It was a beautiful warm day with the sun shining and that was a plus.

I started the afternoon with lunch at Flip, the restaurant inside the main Bloomingdale’s store on Lexington Avenue and 59th Street (see my review on TripAdvisor). I had been here a few times before when walking the lower part of the Upper East Side. It is located in the lower level of the store and has the most wonderful hamburgers and sandwiches. I had the Bavarian Burger ($18.00), which was delicious and the perfect pick me up after a long day serving other people.

The burger was made with a combination of ground meat and short ribs and was topped with caramelized onions, apple smoked bacon, Brooklyn lager cheese sauce and homemade bread and butter pickles on a pretzel roll served with a side a steak fries. It tasted as good as the description. I highly recommend a trip to Flip when visiting Bloomingdale’s main store. You will find it in the downstairs Men’s Department.

I started my walk at 24 Sycamores Park on East 60th Street. I needed to take a quick rest after that big lunch and it was such a nice day to just relax on the benches and watch the kids play with their nannies.  It is such a great little pocket park with an interesting history. It was one of the parks developed for the Upper East Side residents who complained to Robert Moses that there was no greenery on their side of the City. Here I planned my walk around Sutton Place, Beekman Place and Sutton East (between First & Second Avenues), which some people consider part of the Turtle Bay neighborhood.

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24 Sycamores Park in the Upper East Side

After relaxing in the park for a half hour and catching my breath from the Soup Kitchen and lunch, I started my walk along First Avenue. This is lined with elegant apartment buildings and a combination of old brownstones and mansions. It depends on what part of the Avenue you live on. The area around Sutton Place and Beekman Place is pretty much self contained and off to itself. You really have to walk through the side streets and the parks to see the real beauty of the neighborhood and the little gems that make the neighborhood special.

The one thing I have noticed in the this part of the neighborhood is that a lot of the stores on East 59th Street from Second to First Avenue have closed down and have joined the rest of the epidemic of empty store fronts in the City. Since I finished the walk of the Upper East Side in December, in just three months about a half dozen businesses have closed down. It will be interesting to see what replaces them.

I started the day walking down from East 59th Street and walked the perimeter of the neighborhood from FDR Drive to Second Avenue from East 48th Street where the United Nations is located to East 59th Street, the border of Sutton Place with the Upper East Side. Here and there lots of buildings and restaurants stand out.

I walked down Sutton Place from Sycamore Park down to the United Nations Building. This official border of Sutton Place is lined with pre-war apartment buildings, modern co-ops and a few brownstones and mansions tucked here  and there.

Sutton Place is named after Effingham B. Sutton (1817-1891), a shipping magnate and entrepreneur, who made a fortune during the Gold Rush. He developed a series of brownstones between East 58th and 57th Streets in hopes of reestablishing the neighborhood for residential purposes from its then current state of small factories and commercial purposes. The Sutton Place Parks at the end of each street from East 59th through East 54th Street were established in 1938 when the FDR Drive was built taking away the access to the river. There are a series of five parks now along the East River at the end of each block (NYCParks.org).

At the corner of East 59th Street and Sutton Place starts the series of mansions that line this part of the street. In 1883, this little stretch of roadway had been renamed Sutton Place, a nod to Mr. Sutton, who had constructed that row of brownstone residences  in 1875 (Daytonian in Manhattan).

Vanderbilt and Morgan Mansion Sutton Place

The Vanderbilt and Morgan Mansions on Sutton Place

The beautiful old mansion at 2 Sutton Place was renovated by Anne Vanderbilt, the widow of William K. Vanderbilt. She sold the Vanderbilt mansion on Fifth Avenue that had been built by her husband’s family and bought the Effingham Sutton House. She  hired architect Mott B. Schmidt to renovate the home into a 13 room Georgian mansion.

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Anne Vanderbilt Mansion at 2 Sutton Place; next door is the Anne Morgan Mansion

Anne Tracy Morgan bought the 3 Sutton Place, the house on the corner of Sutton Place and East 57th Street and merged it with the home at 5 Sutton Place. Mott Schmidt filed revised plans for Anne Morgan’s house at 3 Sutton Place when she bought 5 Sutton Place and had the homes merged. The plans called for the rebuilding of the two structures into a four story dwelling in American Colonial style with a roof garden and Morgan and Vanderbilt would share a common garden. To create the illusion of a vintage home, Mott reused the bricks from  the old buildings on the site. The house was completed in 1922 (Daytonian Manhattan).

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The entrance to the Vanderbilt Mansion at 2 Sutton Place

As you walk the side streets between East 58th through East 48th Street, these dead end blocks offer magnificent views of Roosevelt Island and the Queens-Brooklyn waterfront which is quickly changing from old warehouses to luxury high-rises and waterfront parks. Each has its own unique view of Roosevelt Island.

At the end of Sutton Place at the corner of East 53rd Street there is a small park, Sutton Place Park South, overlooking the tip of Roosevelt Island and FDR Park with its beautiful landscaping and stone work. It is a nice place to just relax and enjoy the cool breezes and hear the racket of FDR Drive zooming by.

Sutton Place Park South.jpg

Sutton Place Park South at the tip of Sutton Place

This wonderful park should be visited by everyone who visits Manhattan. It has the most spectacular views of Roosevelt Island and the Queens/Brooklyn Waterfront and on a sunny warm day, it is one of the most relaxing parks I have visited since MywalkinManhattan.com started.

Sutton Place Park South II

Sutton Place Park South

It is nice to sit amongst the cool breezes of the river by small gardens and shade trees. There were two dedications in the park that stood out to me. One was to Clara Coffey and the other was to Bronka Norak.

Clara Stimson Coffey was a landscape architect who in 1936 accepted the role of Chief of Tree Plantings for the NYCParks system and helped design several parks including the Clement Clark Moore Park in Chelsea which I recently visited on my Victorian Christmas Tour (Day One Hundred & Twenty Eight).

Bronka Novak was a long time Sutton Place resident and upon her death, her husband, the late Adam Novak, left an endowment for the maintenance of the flowers, trees and shrubs in the park.

On the west side of Sutton Place is lined with pre and post war apartment buildings each with a doorman that will look you over if you walk around the neighborhood too much as I did. You would think that they would have better things to do.

As I crossed back over East 59th Street, my next part of the walk took me to First Avenue which itself is going through a transition. Many of the old buildings and store fronts are giving way to new apartment buildings. As with the rest of Manhattan, this area is going through a make over to upscale housing.

On my next trip to Sutton Place after another long day at the Soup Kitchen (the Bread Station is beginning to get to me. Every time we have desserts available, the guests pound on me), I walked from Ninth Avenue and West 28th Street to First Avenue and East 59th Streets. On top of all the exercise from running around the Soup Kitchen, I got even more walking in but on a sunny, warm day it does not make much a difference.

I stopped into Jimbo’s Hamburger Place at 991 First Avenue (See reviews on TripAdvisor) and DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com) for lunch. This small hole in the wall diner has been there for years and is a favorite for many of the older neighborhood residents who seem to know the owners quite well. The food is here is wonderful and the whole menu is very reasonable for this neighborhood.

I had a cheeseburger with fries ($8.50) that tasted as if the meat had just been ground and cooked perfectly with a nice carmelization on the meat. The fries were cooked to order and the whole meal was delicious and hit the spot. What was nice was to talk to people who had lived in Sutton Place. The restaurant has a nice neighborhood feel to it and the patrons had obviously been eating here for years. One woman who sat next to me eats here everyday. I guess as you get older and are single you don’t want to cook for yourself anymore.

Jimbo's II

Jimbo’s Cheeseburger and fries

After lunch, I continued the walk down First Avenue, I stopped at 931 First Avenue which had once been an old elementary school that had been built in 1892 in the Romanesque style. Instead of knocking the school down, the builder incorporated the school into the office tower above and around it. It gives the building a modern twist. As I was looking over the current renovation, I noticed a plaque on the corner wall.

Beekman Place School

The former P.S. 135 now the Beekman Regent Building

The school sat on the site of patriot James Beekman’s estate, Mount Pleasant, that had once been the British headquarters during the Revolutionary War. James Beekman (1732-1807) was a prominent New York City merchant and came from a family of merchants, lawyers and politicians. His ancestors had been Mayors of New York City and Albany and held positions as Governors of New York, Delaware and Pennsylvania. His grandfather, Gerardus Beekman, had been the acting Governor of New York under British rule (Wiki).

James Beekman

James Beekman whose name is given to Beekman Place

His estate and mansion, Mount Pleasant, had been used by the British as their headquarters during the war. The estate covering what is currently now both Sutton and Beekman Place. This was also the site for the trial of Patriot Nathan Hale.

Nathan Hale had volunteered to go behind enemy lines during the war and was recognized in a tavern by Major Robert Rangers of the Queen’s Rangers. Another story was he was turned in by his own cousin, Samual Hale, who was a loyalist. Either way, Hale was questioned at the Beekman mansion by British General William Howe and was lead to gallows on September 22nd, 1776 (See MywalkinManhattan on the Upper East Side. He was hung where there is a Pier One store at present).

James Beekman Estate Mansion

Mount Pleasant, the home of James Beekman and his family

The house was moved once to a buff at First Avenue and East 50th Street when the street grid was put into effect and the house was torn down in 1874 at the start of the real estate boom after the Civil War (Untapped Cities).

I continued walking down First Avenue until I reached East 48th and 49th Streets where the road forks into First Avenue and United Nations Plaza. This area is filled with Embassies and offices for the United Nations and Trump World Tower is at end of the neighborhood at 845 United Nations Plaza so traffic here is rough and the security all around the place is tight.

Peter Detmold Park

The Bridge leading to the East River Walk

When I reached the east side of First Avenue and at 51st Street, I took a turn down the road to the river and I went over the pedestrian bridge at the end of the block. This leads into the enclave of Beekman Place, the former estate of James Beekman. As you cross the bridge, you will enter Peter Detmold Park and its extension leading down FDR Drive, General Douglas MacArthur Park.

Peter Detmold Park III.jpg

The entrance to Peter Detmold Park

Peter Detmold (1923-1972) was once a tenant of the Turtle Bay Gardens. He was a veteran of World War II, serving under General George Patton in the Battle of the Bulge in France. Upon his return to civilian life, he was a Cornell graduate and when he moved to the City, became the one of the founders and President of the Turtle Bay Association and the founded the Turtle Bay Gazette. He along with other residents fought to keep the are residential and away from the commercial districts that were creeping into the area. On the night of January 6, 1972 after returning home from a meeting of the East Side Residential Association, he was murdered inside his building. The murder still has not been solved and the park was named after him later that year (NYCParks.com).

Peter Detmold

Activist, Veteran, Resident of Turtle Bay and fellow Cornell Alumnus Peter Detmold

Before I walked the bridge to the overpass, I walked down the steep stone steps down to the park area. It is a really hidden park. The area is surrounded by stone walls and apartment buildings above. To the left is a dog walk park that is extremely popular with residents and pooches alike. It is always busy.

To the right is a series of garden beds and benches to sit down and relax. There are tables where people were eating their lunches or playing with their dogs and being the beginning of spring, lots of flowers are in bloom. I walked around the area and watched as groups of residents talked and ate their meals or played games. The parks trees were just budding so the park had a canopy covering the top. When you walk through the gate at the end corner of the park, it leads to the General Douglas MacArthur Park and playground. Here you will find the much needed public bathrooms and they are in good shape.

Peter Detmold Park IV

The General Douglas MacArthur Park and Playground was named for General Douglas MacArthur (1880-1964), who had a illustrious military career that spanned four wars and five decades. Having served in the Philippine Islands and Mexico, he served in France during WWWI. He was called back into service for WWII serving as the Supreme Allied Commander in the Pacific and developed the strategy of “island hopping” that turned the tide of the war. He also served in the Korean War as well. After serving as an unofficial advisor to two presidents before retiring in 1951. After that, he retired at the Waldorf Towers in NYC (NYCParks.com).

General MacArthur III

General MacArthur

The park was originally built as part of the UN Plaza then was ceded to the City by Alcoa Associates and became part of the NYC Parks system in 1966. The small playground has a several swings, jungle gyms and tables to play chess along with bed of flowers and shade trees. It is right around the corner from some of the United Nations buildings so the outside can be busy with cars coming and going. The best part is the bathrooms are nice and open until 5:00pm (NYCParks.com)

MacArthur Park

After visiting both parks, I went back to Peter Detmold Park and went back up the narrow stone stairs and walked over the crosswalk to the riverfront promenade that lines the East River from East 51st to East 54th Streets offering breathtaking views of Governors Island and the Queens Riverfront. On a sunny day, the whole riverfront gleams.

East River View II

View from the Riverfront Promenade

After walking the Promenade to East 54th Street and walking back, its hard to believe that changes in the riverfront areas in both Queens and Brooklyn in the last fifteen years. The whole coast is lined with luxury housing, boast slips and parks offering excellent views of the East Side of Manhattan.

Once you exit the park, you will notice a small tree lined street with brownstones and pre-war apartment buildings. You have just entered Beekman Place, a tiny enclave of older homes and an assortment of embassies.

Beekman Place II.jpg

I glanced down a small road lined with small brownstones, townhouses and pre-war apartment buildings and proceeded to detour down Beekman Place to tour the road and the side streets, each leading back out to First Avenue from East 51st Street to Mitchell Place.

As you walk down this quiet enclave of majestic architecture, there is a lot to admire in the surrounding buildings and the serene side streets of 50th Street and Mitchell Place. Each block is lined with unique buildings all decorated with plantings.

Beekman Place III

21 & 23 Beekman Place

Many famous people have lived in this neighborhood. At 23 Beekman Place, stage actress Katharine Cornell and her husband, Guthrie McClintic lived. Ms. Cornell was once considered one of the greatest American actresses on stage, best know for her roles in ‘The Barretts of Wimpole Street’ and her Tony award winning role in ‘Anthony and Cleopatra’. Her husband was a famous theater and film director whose production company produced all of his wife’s plays (Wiki).

Kathine Cornell

Kathrine Cornell and Guthrie McClintic

At 21 Beekman Place, Ellen Biddle Shipman, one of the most famous and best regarded landscape architects in the United States know for her formal gardens with a lush planting style. A Radcliffe graduate, she is best known for her work on the Longue Vue Gardens in New Orleans and the Sarah P. Duke Gardens at Duke University, considered her finest work (Wiki).

Ellen Biddle Shipman

Ellen Biddle Shipman

As you walk to the end of these streets facing the river, you get the most spectacular views of the Queens waterfront and Roosevelt Island. Along East 51st, East 50th and Mitchell Place you will find an assortment of embassies from countries I am not too sure people might know.

I exited down Mitchell Place at the edge of the neighborhood and passed the Beekman Tower at 31 Mitchell Place.  Originally called ‘The Panhellenic’, the tower was built between 1927 and 1928 in the Art Deco style by architect John Mead Howells. It was opened as a residence for women of the Greek sororities who were entering the workforce in New York City but by 1934, the building had male residents. Today this graceful building is being used as a corporate apartment building.

Beekman Tower

The Art Deco Beekman Tower at 31 Mitchell Place & First Avenue

I walked back up First Avenue, I looked across the street and saw the most beautiful floral displays and flowers for sale outside of Zeze Flowers  at 938 First Avenue (See review on LittleShoponMainStreet@Wordpress.com). This is more than a store it is more like a museum of flowers. Everything from the window displays with the ‘Man in Moon’ to the exotic flowers enticing you inside you will be taken by the beauty of store.

Zeze Flowers II

Zeze Flowers Shop

Once inside Zeze Flower Shop you will admire the beauty of the displays, statuary and the gorgeous orchids that line the shelves and tables. All the tables are lined with all sorts of decorative objects and the walls with vases to hold their carefully cut flowers. The store itself is a work of art and the bouquets and arrangements look like something out of a painting. There is a lot of care in this store and the staff is attentive and friendly.

Zeze Flowers

The beautiful flowers and gift ideas of Zeze Flower Shop

On the way back up First Avenue, I passed the spot of the Beekman Mansion again at First and East 51st Street and admired the renovation of the building which was once a school. The building, The Beekman Regent at 351 East 51st Street, had been designed and built in 1892 by George W. Debevoise, who was the Superintendent  of Board of Education at the time as P.S. 135. Later it had became the United Nations School. It now serves as a luxury apartment building that won the 2002 Mercedes Benz Property Award for the ‘finest new redevelopment in the world’ (Beekman Regent history).

Beekman Place School

The Beekman Regent building at 351 East 51st Street

I continued up First Avenue past a long line of restaurants. I have noticed just in the two weeks that I have been walking the Sutton Place neighborhood, two businesses have closed and the storefronts are empty.

Another restaurant I ate at when walking the Upper East Side at another time was Go Noodle at 1069 First Avenue (See review on TripAdvisor). There combination platter at lunch are reasonable and I had a chicken with string beans and an eggroll ($8.50) that was delicious.

I made it back to East 59th Street in time to see the traffic building up on the Queensboro Bridge. The lights from the waterfront started to come on and when I walked back to 24 Sycamores Park, the place was still filled with families. I was exhausted and saved the rest of the walk for another day.

I came back to the neighborhood a week later on a beautiful sunny day after a long day working the Bread Station at Holy Apostles again. These guests love their bread and we were busy again so it was another long walk up to Sutton Place. Here I started at East 59th and Second Avenue. Technically this area is known as Turtle Bay but some creative people in the real estate industry have called the area between First and Second Avenues between East 59th and 49th “Sutton East” as I saw on some of the buildings. So down Second Avenue I went to visit ‘Sutton East’.

Second Avenue between East 59th and East 48th Streets has become a real hodge-podge of buildings as the area closer to Midtown, between East 48th and 50th Streets have given way to larger office and apartment buildings. Once above East 51st Street, there still is a mixture of older brownstone and smaller apartment buildings that house the mom & pop stores and restaurants that keep the borders of Sutton Place and Turtle Bay unique.

I started my day with lunch at Mee’s Noodle Shop at 930 Second Avenue (See review on TripAdvisor) which I had passed a few times when walking back to Port Authority. The menu and the write ups on the restaurant had been very good and there is a lot of creativity to the selection. Since it was Good Friday when I visited I stuck to all seafood dishes which was a nice choice. The restaurant’s specialty is dumplings and noodles that are made fresh on premise and you can see them being made as you walk in.

I ordered the steamed seafood dumplings ($6.50) which were a combination of crab, shrimp and scallop. They were really light and had a nice taste to them with the soy dipping sauce. For my main part of the meal, I ordered the Shrimp Lo Mein (Small $7.35/Large $9.20). This was especially good because all the noodles were being made in front of me and were fresh and cooked to perfection. The dish was studded with nice size shrimp and an array of vegetables including a very well cooked bok choy.  The service could not have been nicer especially during the lunch rush.

After lunch I walked the distance of Second Avenue, looking over all the menus on the restaurants that lined the Avenue. There is a lot to choose from. There are coffee shops, Italian restaurants, Continental, German, Thai and several very good pizzerias. What I like about Second Avenue in this stretch of the Avenue is the juxtaposed look of the buildings that give it character.  The most action at night seems to be between East 50th and 51st Streets where a lot of the bars are located. This part of the neighborhood I read that the residents here worked hard to fight the city on new construction to keep the character of the neighborhood the way it has been.

A nice place to sit and relax is the Katherine Hepburn Place by Sterling Plaza at Second Avenue and East 49th Street. This little park named after the actress who lived and advocated for the neighborhood is a small area of trees and benches that is nice to rest for a bit. It is nice to people watch here especially the dog walkers who all seem to converge here.

Sterling Plaza Park

Sterling Plaza Park

As I walked back up to East 59th Street, I began to notice that again smaller businesses between that and East 57th were beginning to close. It seems that the fringes of the Upper East Side are beginning to blend into this neighborhood. When you reach the top of the block at East 59th Street, you are greeted with the traffic going into the Queensboro Bridge, the tram going back and forth to Roosevelt Island and the sheer movement of people.

On the way back down Second Avenue, I visited La Vera Pizza at 922 Second Avenue (See review on TripAdvisor) for a quick slice. The pizza is really good and they make a delicious Sicilian slice ($3.00). The slice was pillowy and crisp and their sauce has a lot of flavor to it.

There is a distinct difference when you cross East 48th Street from the neighborhood as all the brownstones disappear and you see more office and apartment buildings on that part of Second Avenue. From East 58th to East 49th Streets, you will see a transition and change block by block. Some blocks will be all brownstones and small mom & pop businesses and others it will be a new building with a combination of businesses at street level.

From here, I walked block by block and explored the side streets of the neighborhood and there are many hidden gems in way of restaurants, stores and historic architecture to explore.

Starting on East 59th Street a lot has changed since I walked the neighborhood since before the holidays. A lot of the stores that I had passed were gone and the stores were empty. Either to changing times or higher rents, these businesses disappeared right after the New Year so I turned the corner at Second Avenue and walked down East 58th Street and was surprised by the trove of stores and restaurants on the street. There are still a lot of antique stores and florists on the street as well many restaurants. You will also see the most amazing views of the Queensboro Bridge as it extends from Manhattan to the shores of Queens in the distance.

Queensboro Bridge II

The Queensboro Bridge on East 59th Street

When you turn the corner and enter 58th Street towards the entrance to the Queensboro Bridge, you will see two small brownstones, 311 and 313 East 58 Street. The were built between 1856-57 by Hiram G. Disbrow for his own use. They were built in the Greek Revival-Italianate style with a porch with a picket fence (Streeteasy). 311 is now the home of Philip Colleck Ltd., an antique furniture store where they carry beautiful classic furniture for the home. 315 is still a private home right next to the ramp on the entrance to the Queensboro Bridge. These two interesting little brownstone homes stand out against the modern high rises that dot the rest of East 58th Street.

311 & 313 East 58th Street

311 and 313 East 58th Street brick structures

This pretty much dominates East 57th Street as well until you get to the Morgan and Vanderbilt Mansions at 2 & 3 Sutton Place with the amazing view of Roosevelt Island and the Queens Waterfront. There is a real beauty in the line of old mansions and brownstones between East 58th and 57th on Sutton Place.

Sutton Place

The mansions on Sutton Place

East 56th Street is lined with an array of pre and post war buildings as well with more great views of the river at the end of street of the East River on Sutton Place. East 55th Street is about the same but there is a stand out with A La Mode, an ice cream shop at 360 East 55th Street.

A La Mode.jpg

A La Mode

A La Mode (see my review on TripAdvisor) is a very cute and engaging ice cream shop that caters to the locals. The selection of homemade ice creams offers a few unusual flavors. I enjoyed a double scoop of Pink Sprinkle (Strawberry with colored sprinkles) and Partly Cloudy (Cotton Candy with baby marshmellows) both of which were colorful and delicious. They also carry an assortment of gifts and clothes for that lucky child. I must have enjoyed eating it because everyone smiled at me on my walk down to Sutton Place Park to enjoy it and the views.

A La Mode II.jpg

As I rounded the corner onto East 54th Street, I stopped by both Sofia Pizza and Marinara Pizza many times when touring the neighborhood. Sofia Pizza Shoppe at 989 First Avenue (see review on TripAdvisor) has been noted as being one of the best slices in the City by several magazines. I would bypass the traditional slice as it was okay ($3.25) but the Sicilian slice ($4.50) was delicious. It had a nice pillowy consistency and the sauce is loaded with flavor of fresh tomatoes.

Marinara Pizza at 985 First Avenue and the corner of East 54th Street (see my review on TripAdvisor) is a beautiful open restaurant that allows you to look in at all the pizzas. I had a slice from a pizza that just came out of oven and it was excellent. Their sauce is delicious and well spiced and the cheese was nice and gooey. Between the slice of pizza here and the sundae at A La Mode while looking at the view at Sutton Place Park at East 54th Street it was the perfect afternoon. People were smiling back at me that I seemed so happy to indulge in my ice cream while walking down the street.

When you get to the end of East 54th by Sutton Place, there is a small set up stairs that will take you to the first part of Sutton Place Park, Sutton Place Park North,  with benches that overlook the skyline of Queens and Roosevelt Island. On a nice day, it is the perfect place to soak up the sunshine and relax while looking at soaring skyline.

Walking down East 54th Street  from the park you will find the Recreation Center 54 at 348 East 54th Street with the Neighborhood  Playhouse School of Theater next door at 350 East 54th Street. The Neo-Classical building was built in 1911 as a recreation facility for the working classes and has many of the original details inside such as wrought iron staircases and marble baths. Originally called the 54th Street Baths and Gymnasium, the facility has now morphed into complete gaming experience with basketball, volleyball and swimming (NYCParks.org). Really look up to see the beauty of the building.

Recreation 54.jpg

Recreation 54 Building on East 54th Street

On the outside of the Neighborhood Playhouse School next door, there is a  plaque for Sanford Meisner, one of its most famous faculty. He developed the ‘Meisner Technique’, which is a self-investigation for the actor.

Sanford Meisner Plaque

The Sanford Meisner Plaque at the Neighborhood Playhouse School

Mr. Meisner, who had wanted to be an actor since he was a child has studied under Lee Strasberg at the Theater Guild for Acting. In 1935, he joined the faculty of The Neighborhood Playhouse School of the Theater which had been founded in 1928. He had served at the Director of the Acting Department until his retirement in 1990.

At the other end of East 54th Street by Second Avenue, there is an interesting and relaxing little public space that is part of the apartment complex, The Connaught Tower. This is the perfect place to relax and unwind after a long walk with benches, small gardens and shade trees. In the front of this public space is the artwork by artist Alexander Liberman, ‘POPS209: Accord’, a large geometric sculpture

.Alexander Liberman statue Accord

POPS209: Accord by Alexander Liberman

Mr. Liberman’s, Russian born immigrant as way of France, career as an artist covered many different forms of art including photography, painting, sculpture and retiring as an Editorial Director at Conde Nast. In his sculpture work, he was noted for his use of industrial objects like steel drums and I beams and then painting them in uniform bright colors. POPS209: Accord is example of that but you almost miss it as the trees are growing all around it.

After several breaks in this public space, it was off to explore East 53rd Street. As I made my way back to the river passing the southern part of Sutton Place Park and rounding Sutton Place South onto East 53rd. Be careful when walking in this area. You are blind to cars coming on street from Sutton Place South and they may not stop.

What stands here is this small red brownstone at 413 East 53rd Street that sits like a poor sole amongst the large apartment buildings that surround it.

413 East 53rd Street

This little building doesn’t look as good as this now on the outside but it does have a colorful history in the transformation of this neighborhood several times. The property was once part of the Beekman estate in an area of summer homes and estates of wealthy downtown Manhattanites.

After the Civil War and the land boom that pretty much doomed the Beekman’s estate, this area was built up with tenement housing for the working class who worked in the nearby factories and this little house must have built somewhere in the late 1880’s. It has been lived in by several interesting characters.

The house was once lived in by corrupt politicians who were once slum lords in other parts of the neighborhood, then by a prostitute and her pimp and after that to an insurance company which dealt with cremations. After that it became a sheet metal shop and was fought over and sold by the slum lord’s estate (Daytonian in Manhattan).

By the time that Mrs. Vanderbilt and Mrs. Morgan built their homes up the road, the little brick building became a clock shop and then for the next several years was an antique reproduction store. It’s last incarnation was as a dentist office and the upper two floors was renovated into a luxury home. Now it sits empty and boarded up waiting for the next stage of its history. So much history for such a small building.

As you pass the corner of East 53rd Street and First Avenue, take a peak inside the doorway to 400-402 East 53rd and look at the secret garden behind the locked door. If you glare to the back, you will see the garden that is hidden behind all the buildings on this part of First Avenue between East 53rd and 52nd Streets. If you could only sneak inside to take a peek.

400 East 53rd Street

The secret garden hides behind this entrance

Walking further down East 53rd Street, two small wooden homes that stood out among all the luxury buildings and commercial shops on the street. These two little wooden homes are two of the last remaining in Manhattan and are currently landmarked.

312 & 314 East 53rd Street

312 & 314 East 53rd Street

The homes were built in 1866 by Robert and James Cunningham, two returning Civil War veterans who returned to an ever changing City. The area had once been the farm of David Devore and now contained slaughter houses and factories and was considered ‘sketchy’. The brothers built the two twin wooden homes right before the City changed the building codes banning wooden homes due to fires destroying the City like the ‘Great Fire of 1835, which destroyed most of downtown (Daytonian in Manhattan).

The two homes are built in the French Second Empire Style and have mansard roofs and brick basements and a shared garden in the back of both homes. The brothers leased the homes out until 1870. In the 1920’s 312 East 53rd was leased to Lincoln Kitsten, who founded the New York City Ballet and then to Society Hostess Muriel Draper and her dancer son, John. The homes were landmarked in 1968 and 2000 respectively (Daytonian in Manhattan).

As you cross the street at Second Avenue and walk down the other side of the street heading back to the river, you will pass Eclair Bakery at 305 East 53rd Street (see reviews on TripAdvisor and DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com), which I consider one the best independent bakeries I have tried on my walk since Estreda Bakery in Washington Heights and the now closed Glaser’s Bakery on the Upper East Side.

Eclair Bakery III

Eclair Bakery’s delicious desserts

Eclair Bakery has some of the most delicious pastries, quiches and sandwiches at what I consider very reasonable prices for this part of the city. The Strawberry and Nutrella mini-doughnuts ($2.50) are pillowy and coated with sugar filled with fresh strawberry jelly and chocolaty Nutella and are three bite wonders.

The eclair’s ($5.75) come in various flavors and are arranged in the case like jewels. The Hazelnut was my favorite. The Quiche with ham and cheese  ($5.75) when warmed up has a nice custard like texture and a sharpness due to the cheese. Everything here is delicious and the service is really friendly.

East 52nd Street between the river and Second Avenue is filled with mostly pre and post-war buildings and filled with many embassies and consulates. As you walk toward the United Nations, you will notice that a lot of the smaller apartment buildings and brownstones between East 52nd and East 48th Street have many foreign signs.

Turning the corner onto East 51st Street on Second Avenue, you will see a change in the neighborhood again. Second Avenue is the border between  Turtle Bay and Sutton Place East neighborhoods and you will notice as you get further down the avenue block by block you will see a change between new modern apartment buildings and the smaller brownstone buildings that house the locally owned restaurants. It still is a neighborhood in this section between East 51st and East 49th Streets.

Again on the corner of East 51st Street and First Avenue, you will pass the site of the Beekman Mansion on the way back to the East River. At the end of street, you will return to Peter Detmold Park. On a beautiful sunny day, take another walk across the bridge to take in the views of the East River and Roosevelt Island or just sit on the benches in the park and watch people playing with their dogs.

There is one little standout building on the Street at 328 East 51st Street. This beautiful little yellow townhouse was built in 1861 and was the home of actress Katharine Cornell when she moved back to the City in 1965. The two tiny sculptures that sit above the doorway are of Julia and Comfort Tiffany, the twin daughters of Louis Comfort Tiffany who were born in 1887. Ms. Cornell commissioned sculpture to artist, Mary Lawrence Tonetti, who was a good friend of her’s and whose son-in-law, Eric Gugler and architect, had designed the actress’s homes in Martha’s Vineyard and Sneden’s Landing (New York Times). Really look at the stonework and grill work of this home.

328 East 51st Street

328 East 51st Street has a beauty of something in the French Quarter

When you turn the corner again to East 50th Street, the are around Beekman Place closer to the East River by the park has more classic brownstones and prewar apartment buildings and the area between First Avenue and the river is its own little enclave. Here the brownstones on the side streets are filled with many consulates. As you walked down to Second Avenue, the streets are lined with pre and post war buildings. Take the time though to walk Beekman Place and Mitchell Place near the Beekman Tower. It is like its own neighborhood.

Walking back and forth down East 49th Street, you will notice this lower part of the neighborhood is changing to more modern buildings and businesses catering to the United Nations around the corner and the same with East 48th Street which is more modern buildings and parking garages for the UN. The classic brownstones give way to the modern buildings of Midtown.

Still you have two great restaurants between East 49th and 50th Streets, Mee’s Noodles for those wonderful dumplings and noodles at 930 Second Avenue and La Vera Pizzera on the corner of East 49th Street and Second Avenue at 922 Second Avenue (see reviews on TripAdvisor). My last trip into the neighborhood I made another trip to La Vera Pizzeria and the place was crowded with people getting off work from Midtown. Their pizza is very good and the service is friendly.

You can see how this part of the City like all others is in a state of transition as the brownstone buildings with their independent businesses are giving way to the more modern structures of today changing it to an extension of Midtown. Still many parts of the blocks have a ‘neighborhood’ feel to it and the area is loaded with interesting buildings, wonderful restaurants, small pocket parks and amazing views of the East River and the outer boroughs changing skyline. It is a wonderful place to just walk around and enjoy!

 

Steve Tyrell and Neil Sedaka “Laughter in the Rain”

 

I don’t know why but I kept humming this the entire time I walked Sutton Place.

 

 

Places to Eat:

Flip-Bloomingdales

1000 Third Avenue

New York, NY  10022

(212) 705-2993

https://www.bloomingdales.com/buy/flip

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d2315278-Reviews-Flip-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d3293428-Reviews-Flip-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

 

Jimbo’s Hamburger Place

991 First Avenue

New York, NY 10022

(212) 355-6123

Fax: (212) 355-7068

http://www.jimboshamburgerplace.com/

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d425756-Reviews-Jimbos_Hamburger_Place-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

My review on DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com:

https://diningonashoestringinnyc.wordpress.com/2019/04/13/jimbos-hamburger-palace-991-first-avenue-between-54th-53rd-streets-new-york-ny-10022/

 

Mee’s Noodle Shop

930 Second Avenue

New York, NY  10022

(212) 888-0027/0138/0234

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

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d502666-Reviews-Mee_Noodle_Shop-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

 

Go Noodle Chinese Restaurant

1069 First Avenue

New York, NY  10022

(212) 888-6366/5995/fax-4244

http://www.gonoodleninemoon.com/

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

My review on TripAdvisor:

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

 

La Vera Pizza

922 Second Avenue

New York, NY 10017

(212) 826-8777

http://www.laverapizzanyc.com

Open: Sunday-Wednesday 9:45am-1:45am/9:45am-3:45am/Friday-Saturday 9:45am-4:45am

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d12192135-Reviews-La_Vera_Pizzeria-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

 

Marinara Pizza

985 First Avenue

New York, NY

(917) 261-2147

https://www.marinarapizza.com/

Open:  Sunday 11:00am-10:00pm/Monday  9:00am-2:00pm & 2:00pm-5:00pm/Tuesday-Saturday 11:00am-10:00pm

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d17522229-Reviews-Marinara_Pizza-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

 

Sofia Pizza

989 First Avenue

New York, NY  10022

(212) 888-8816

http://www.sofiapizzashoppe.com

Open:  Sunday 12:00pm-9:00pm/Monday-Saturday 11:00am-10:00pm

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d11882563-Reviews-Sofia_Pizza_Shoppe-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

 

A La Mode

350 East 55th Street

New York, NY  10022

(917) 639-3401

home

Open: Sunday 11:00am-8:00pm/Monday Closed/Tuesday-Saturday 11:00am-8:00pm

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d8412143-Reviews-A_la_Mode_Shoppe-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

 

Eclair Bakery

305 East 53rd Street

New York, NY 10022

(212) 371-3459

http://www.eclairbakery-nyc.com

Open: Sunday 8:00am-8:00pm/Monday-Thursday 7:00am-9:00pm/Friday-Saturday 7:00am-10:00pm

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d6438250-Reviews-Eclair_Bakery-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

My review on DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/diningonashoestringinnyc.wordpress.com/1068

 

Places to Visit:

 

24 Sycamores Park

501 East 60th Street

New York, NY  10065

(212) 639-9675

Open: 6:00am-9:00pm

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

 

Peter Detmold Park

454 East 51st Street

New York, NY 10022

(212) 639-9675

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

https://www.nycgovparks.org/parks/peter-detmold-park/history

 

General MacArthur Park

East 48th to East  49th Streets & FDR Drive

New York, NY  10022

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

 

Sutton Place Park North and South

Between East 54th and East 53rd Street and FDR Drive

New York, NY  10022

https://www.nycgovparks.org/parks/sutton-place-park

https://suttonplaceparks.org/

 

Places to Shop:

The Philip Colleck Ltd.

311 East 58th Street

New York, NY  10022

(212) 486-7600

info@philipcolleck.com

http://www.philipcolleck.com

 

Zeze Flowers

938 First Avenue

New York, NY  10022

(212) 753-7767

http://www.zezeflowers.com

My review on LittleShoponMainStreet@Wordpress.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/littleshoponmainstreet.wordpress.com/229

 

 

Day One Hundred and Six: Walking the borders of the Upper West Side from West 84th Street to West 72nd Street to Central Park West to Riverside Drive March 10th-2018

It took a long time to finish the Upper East Side neighborhood above 72nd Street and I wanted to return to many of the historical spots to get more research in so it took longer than I thought.

After a long day in Soup Kitchen (I swear I should do these on separate days) in the Beverage Station, I left the Soup Kitchen exhausted again. I can not believe how demanding the homeless can be.

I took the Number One Subway up to 86th Street and walked down to West 84th Street and Central Park West to walk the ring of the neighborhood. Returning to West 84th Street was like visiting an old friend. I had not been on this side of town in months.

I have walked the length of Central Park West many times in this project from 110th Street past 59th Street back to the Port Authority many times on this project in various seasons and it is interesting to see the park at various times of the year. Still, not matter what season, Central Park is always busy. Whether it is people walking their dogs, people jogging on paths or kids playing in playgrounds, the park is always in use no matter what the weather is during the year.

As you walk Central Park West, take time out to really look at the architecture of the buildings and the beauty of the stone work and the carvings. You will not see this in modern buildings. From the sandblasted outsides of buildings to the redone gilded lobbies, you can see a change in the personality of the structure.  People are bringing grace back to the apartment buildings and much care.

As I walked past the ‘Museum Mile” of the Upper West Side in the New York Historical Society at 170 Central Park West and the American Museum of Natural History at Central Park West and 79th Street both displayed their upcoming shows. If you get a chance, go see the “Unseen Oceans” and “Senses” exhibitions at the American Museum of Natural History. Both tell a different story and the new “Unseen Oceans” exhibition helps us discover what lurks a depths we have never been. There is a whole new world to discover here.

At Central Park West and 77th Street, check out the statue of Alexander Von Humboldt, the famous Prussian geographer, naturalist and explorer. Von Humboldt had explored South America to a great extent back in 1700’s as well as extensive exploration in Europe. The Humboldt Squid is named after him as well as he invented the safety lamp for exploration. The statue by noted artist, Gustaf Blaeser, was dedicated in 1869 and was moved to this location much later. It is being conserved by the Central Park Conservatory.

Alexander Von Humbrolt statue.jpg

Alexander Von Humboldt statue

From West 84th Street on Central Park West to Columbus Avenue, it is always a treasure trove of interesting brownstones. To believe that only 25 years ago, this place was almost abandoned, you should see the transformation now with all this old buildings being sandblasted back to life. There is a lot of TLC (tender loving care) going on in the West Side of Manhattan.

Really look at the architecture on West 84th Street from Central Park West to Columbus Avenue and watch the faces watch you starting with 239 Central Park West laden with faces of men and women surrounding it. As you pass all the brownstones, really look at the carvings of the faces in all the archways and doorways. You never know who is watching from all angles.

Unlike the East Side, where every Avenue seems to being torn down for another apartment building or office tower, the West side of the island is keeping more of its charms. I just do not see the same changes going on in this part of the island as the zoning seems different. Here most of the streets are under scaffolding to sandblast these buildings back to their original glory with new owners. One thing is for sure, the ownership is changing. I have never seen so many kids running around after school.

Like the Upper East Side, this side of town has its share of schools and there are plenty of kids walking home in groups or with their parents. The conversations are very similar to the ones I heard cross town. Politics, relationships and problems with classmates. It is a amazing the conversations you hear in restaurants, bakeries and on the sidewalks.

The one thing that does not change on the streets of New York is how pampered their pets are. I have never seen so many well-groomed animals. Not to the extent of their East side counterparts (who have about six to eight upscale grooming places) but I can tell people love their dogs.

As I passed down West 84th Street, I visited many businesses I had been to so many months ago like West Side Kids at 498 Amsterdam Avenue, John Koch Antiques at 201 West 84th Street and Books of Wonder at 217 West 84th Street all of which have become some of my favorite stores on the West Side.

Also, when you reach West End Avenue, pause to look at the lines of brownstones surrounding the block and the beautiful stonework and carvings on each brownstone. The block as well as most of the blocks between West End Avenue and Riverside Drive are classic and detailed in their architecture.

Riverside Drive changes from block to block. Some of the blocks are protected under the Historic districts that they are part of and other blocks are high rise apartments. The West End Historical District runs from about West 80th Street to West 79th Street. Here you will find an array of artistically designed mansions with their large windows and whimsical turrets. These homes are tucked into and around the surrounding apartment buildings.

The West End Collegiate Historic District encompasses even a bigger area of this part of the neighborhood covering from West 79th Street to West 70th Street from Riverside Drive to parts of Broadway. This historic district contains many famous and prominent apartment buildings, brownstones and churches including the Collegiate Church on West End Avenue, the Ansonia and Astor Apartments on Broadway and the Chatsworth Apartments (which are under current renovations) at West 72nd Street.

The pre-war architecture and Victorian style of these buildings are unique to NYC now and should be protected. This type of structure are in danger of being knocked down and replaced with larger more modern construction. Note this in my writing of the Upper East Side which is going through so many changes right now.

Walking along Riverside Drive starting at West 84th Street is a treat. There is that juxtaposed mix of buildings with Victorian mansions tucked next to pre-war apartments with a few modern buildings thrown in. All of this is facing Riverside Park, which for most of the time I was walking the neighborhood was still in winter dormancy.

At West 81st Street and Riverside Drive inside the entrance to the park is the River Run Playground, your first source of public bathrooms. The park was quiet on a winter afternoon but after a few visits to the neighborhood and the weather getting warmer, the kids came out in droves with their parents tagging along.

The beauty of River Run Playground is in the details of the park. The bathrooms have the most beautiful monkey designs molded into the gates so you have to look up for them. The park itself is oval in design filled with every whimsical play thing a child could want. What I liked about the park as it got warmer was the hill overlooking the park. The Riverside Park Conservatory and the local neighbors planted the hill with all sorts of Spring flowers which are now popping up. Crocuses, Tulips and Daffodils will line the hills overlooking the park and the river and already it is quite a site.

The beauty of Riverside Drive is that there are many parks within the park. At the entrance to the park at West 83rd Street is the Warsaw Ghetto Memorial Park and Gardens. The 12,000 square foot plaza, enclosed by gardens planters, crabapple and locust trees and a polychromed granite wall, is part of the West Side Improvement. The massive Riverside Park expansion directed by Parks Commissioner, Robert Moses and designed by Gilmore D. Clarke and Clinton Loyd was completed in 1937. In 1990, the perimeter gardens were designed and planted by David T. Goldstick. In 2001, the plaza was renovated by Mayor Rudy Gouliani in partnership with the Riverside Park Fund (NYC Parks.org).

Warsaw Ghetto Memorial Park

Warsaw Ghetto Memorial Park

The plaza and gardens has served as a place of contemplation and remembrance of the victims of Nazi brutality. The plaza takes it name from the modest granite plaque at its center and was one of the first Holocaust monuments in the United States, the plaque and its surroundings were dedicated on October 19, 1947 by Mayor William O’Dwyer.  A crowd of 15,000 attended , including 100 survivors of the Buchenwald and Dachau concentration camps. Each year on April 19th, people gather here in memory of the inhabitants of the Warsaw Ghetto, who rose up against their Nazi captors and the six million other Jews martyred during WWII. This plaza is a place a beauty and contemplation and is a nice place to just relax and think (NY Parks.org).

At Riverside Drive and 76th Street is the Neufeld Playground, a recently renovated park with two playground for kids of various ages. The best part of the playground is the public bathrooms and like John Jay Park on the East Side, they are open until 5:00pm so this is a great place to make a pit stop and relax on the benches.

Henry Neufeld Playground.jpg

Henry Neufeld Playground

The park was named for Henry Neufeld, a prominent cardiologist and scholar who held many prestigious positions in the medical field in his career and worked with the World Health Organization.

When you exit the Neufeld Playground, you will nice an Robert Ray Hamilton fountain, an empty fountain with an eagle statue topping it. The ornate, baroque styled marble fountain is named for Robert Ray Hamilton, the great-grandson of Alexander Hamilton, the great statesman, who was a prominent businessman, landowner and politician in his own right. He bequeathed $9,000 to the city to create and install it. It is one of the finest and last surviving examples of the decorative horse troughs that once lined the city landscape. It was used for horses to drink in when they were making their way along Riverside Drive (NYC Parks.org).

Robert Ray Hamilton Statue.jpg

Robert Ray Hamilton Statue

At the corner of Riverside Drive and West 72nd Street, just inside the park is a statue dedicated to First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, the wife of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Known for her many civic and charitable contributions to the government at the time one top of being a teacher, women’s rights activist and raising five children during the Presidency, she fought for the rights of people.

Eleanor Roosevelt Statue.jpg

Eleanor Roosevelt Statue

The statue was done by sculptor Penelope Jencks and Michael Middleton Dwyer and the architects on the project were Bruce Kelly and David Varnell. The monument lies at the threshold of the Riverside Park and is one of a sequence of civic monuments along Riverside Drive honoring people of historical significance (NYC Parks.org).  Its a nice place to just relax and watch the world go by. This is also the end of Riverside Park which ends at West 72nd Street.

One building that stands out right across the street from the beginning of Riverside Park is the Chadsworth Apartment Building at 344 West 72nd Street built in 1904 designed by architect John D. Scharsmith for owner George F. Johnson. It was designed to face the park in an English garden fashion. It was lavishly designed in detail to attract the wealthy patrons of Fifth Avenue, who had started to abandon their mansions after the turn of the 20th century (Wiki).

Chatsworth Apartments.jpg

Chatsworth Apartments

Done in a brick and limestone exterior, the detail work on the building is magnificent. Carved angels, faces and flowers line the building and the iron work of the lamps and banisters are just breathtaking. You really have to look beyond the scaffolding to see the true beauty of this building.  They just don’t build apartment buildings with this type of detail anymore.

Across the street from the statue of Eleanor Roosevelt sits an unusual twin mansion, one of the many you will see lining West 72nd Street until you hit Broadway. Most of these old homes are now office and shops but you can see the real beauty in them when at one time this part of the West Side by Riverside Park had been fashionable.

This ‘twin’ mansion was actually two homes with a courtyard created in between the two homes. The Beaux Arts home on West 72nd Street was owned by the Sutphen family and the right plainer mansion was owned by the Prentiss family both designed by mansion architect C.P.H. Gilbert. Both descended from old Colonial families, the Sutphen family were the first one to build their mansion and it was finished 1902 and the Prentiss Mansion was built in 1900. The architect built the courtyard to compliment both homes (Wiki).

West 72nd Street is a real hodge-podge of architecture and buildings as it looks like the shopping district is in a constant state of flux with stores and restaurants opening and closing at record speed due to the increases in rent. Still the street has a 70’s feel about it as there are still some holdouts stores from the ‘old days’.

One stand out restaurant/deli that fit the bill was the West Side Cafe & Pizza at 218 West 72nd Street between Broadway and West End Avenue (see Reviews on TripAdvisor and my blog, “DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com). The place is clean, the food is reasonable and delicious and the prices are more than fair. Their selection of items is also extensive. This is why I ate there four times on my trip to the Upper West Side.

West Side Cafe & Pizza

West Side Cafe and Deli

My first trip there, I just wanted a slice of pizza just to have a snack. A slice here ($2.50) is pretty large and was delicious. They know how to make a marinara sauce. Even though it was warmed over, the quality was excellent. While I was ordering my slice, I saw someone ordering a sausage, egg and cheese on a buttered bagel and it looked so good that when I was walking the streets of the same neighborhood, I had to go back and order it.

So I ordered it on a combination bagel ($4.99) and ate it in Riverside Park. I swear it was one of the best breakfast sandwiches I had ever eaten. The flavors combined beautifully. The sandwich was also huge!

Some of the merchants on West 72nd Street even had a 70’s feel to them. I stopped at Stationary & Toy World Store at 125 West 72nd Street. This is such a great store with floor to ceiling of toys, games, school supplies and anything a kid in the 70’s and 80’s would need for the beginning of the school year. I swear I felt I was in a time warp back thirty years. The best part about the store that it was busy with families so that was encouraging at a time.

stationary and toy world

Stationary & Toy World Store

Another great store with a 70’s feel is Westsider Records at 233 West 72nd Street, which is lined from top to bottom with records. Even the guy who works the front counter looks like he works at a record store. There were records that I have not seen in thirty years. It even looks a record store that should be on the Upper West Side.

In the middle of the neighborhood is the famous Verdi Park and Sherman Square, the former ‘Needle Park’ from the movie, “Panic in Needle Park”. This is no ‘Needle Park’ anymore with a Bloomingdale’s Outlet Store and a Haagen Dazs right on the park. Sherman Square is just south of the neighborhood but Verdi Square was just as bad.

Now Verdi Square is renovated and dedicated to opera composer, Giuseppe Verdi. The statue was designed by Pasquale Civietti in 1906 (NYC Parks.org). The park itself is surrounding by some of the most beautiful Victorian architecture especially around Broadway with the Ansonia Apartments and the Apple Savings Bank, the former Central Savings Bank. Now the park is nicely landscaped with flowers and plantings with a fancy coffee stand.

Verdi Square

Verdi Sqaure

Another great place is Malachy’s Donegal Inn at 103 West 72nd Street. I visited the restaurant twice while visiting the neighborhood and it is a real experience to get to know the locals who like to eat there. If you want to meet neighborhood locals, this is the place to come.

The last part of the walk on the way back to Central Park West was passing The Dakota Apartments. One of the most prestigious addresses in New York City and named for its isolation placement in the city at the time. The apartments were built between 1880 and 1884 designed by architect Henry J. Hardenbergh. Built in the Renaissance and English Victorian design, you can see the detail work all over the building (Wiki).

dakota.jpg

The Dakota Apartments

Even though the building in currently under scaffolding, you can see the detail work in the iron work of the fencing around the building with the face of Neptune (I think) facing everyone who walks by. You can also peak into the courtyard to see where carriages once arrived. It is an amazing building.

The borders of the Upper West Side are steeped in history and loaded with some of the most beautiful buildings and statuary and facing two of the most magnificent landscaped parks in the city. The residents here are very lucky.

Places to Visit:

Alexander Von Humboldt Statue

Central Park West at West 78th Street

New York, NY 10024

https://www.nycgovparks.org/parks/central-park/monuments/1637

 

New York Historical Society

170 Central Park West

New York, NY 10024

nyhistory.org

(212) 873-3400

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g60763-d136143-Reviews-New_York_Historical_Society_Museum_Library-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

My review on VisitingaMuseum.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/visitingamuseum.com/2954

 

American Museum of National  History

Central Park West at West 79th Street

New York, NY 10024

amnh.org

(212) 769-5100

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g60763-d210108-Reviews-American_Museum_of_Natural_History-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

 

Verdi Square

West 72nd Street

New York, NY

https://www.nycgovparks.org/parks/verdi-square

 

Riverside Park

From West 84th Street to West 72nd Street

New York, NY 10024

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

 

Neufeld Playground at Riverside Park at West 76th Street

New York, NY 10024

https://riversideparknyc.org/places/neufeld-elephant-playground/

 

Warsaw Ghetto Memorial Park & River Run Playground & Robert Hamilton Fountain

Riverside Park at West 81st Street

New York, NY 10024

https://riversideparknyc.org/places/warsaw-ghetto-memorial/

 

Eleanor Roosevelt Statue

Riverside Park at West 72nd Street

New York, NY  10024

https://www.nycgovparks.org/park-features/riverside-park/virtual-tour/eleanor-roosevelt-monument

 

Places to Eat:

West Side Cafe and Deli

218 West 72nd Street

New York, NY  10023

(212) 769-9939/8815

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

 

Malachy’s Donegal Inn

103 West 72nd Street

New York, NY  10023

(212) 874-4268

malacysnyc.com

My review on TripAdvisor:

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

My review on DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com:

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

 

Places to Shop:

Stationary & Toy World

125 West 72nd Street

New York, NY  10023

stationaryandtoy.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://www.westsiderrecords.com

 

Day One Hundred and One Walking the boundaries of the Upper East Side from East 84th Street to East 72nd Street from FDR Drive to Fifth Avenue January 26, 2018

It was a surprisingly sunny and warm (41 degrees F) today and it felt warmer than the temperature let on. It was a beautiful, clear sunny day and I decided to continue my walk on the Upper East Side, venturing from East 84th Street to East 72nd Street. Even though I have been visiting this area for years by way of the museums, I had never ventured this far to the East River.

My day started with a walking tour of the Asian Galleries at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the new “Chinese Scrolls Exhibition”. The Asian Galleries have been updated over the years and the new exhibition was displaying recent acquisitions of the collection plus newer pieces based on the Master’s in the collection. It was eye-opening to me the perspective of nature that they had in ancient times versus the growth and building of today. It was interesting to hear the difference between how the artists used ancient art as an inspiration for their perspective on the how the location in nature should look. These tours attract lots of people who are not from the cellphone set.

Metropolitan Museum of art.jpg

‘Chinese Scrolls Exhibition’

I started the walk as I exited the museum. It was such a beautiful day that I thought it would be fun to walk around the neighborhood and really explore the Upper East Side. It really has changed over the last ten to fifteen years. It has always been a very expensive area but it looks more expensive now. Not only have the apartment buildings changed but the stores and parks as well.

I have noticed over the duration of this walk that the area keeps getting knocked down for bigger and more glossier buildings. The older brownstone covered streets are giving way to large box-like apartment buildings whose character is not the same and changes the complexity and look of the grid pattern. It’s hard to believe it is getting generic.

Another thing I have noticed on these walks especially as I have gotten below 96th Street is the amount of empty store fronts. I know as I revisit the old neighborhoods I have already walked that this is happening, it is becoming an epidemic in the expensive areas as well. I noticed that in areas of Fifth and Madison Avenue, there are a lot more empty store fronts and then the expensive stores are being pushed to Lexington and Third Avenues, pushing the moderate restaurants and shops out of the neighborhood. I hate to clue these landlords in on this but not everyone needs $300.00 shoes or a $16.00 hamburger and this is happening in places like Harlem as well.

Where this character has not changed is as you exit the museum and walk down Fifth Avenue, which has not changed too much over the years in on 79th Street just off Fifth Avenue where a line of ‘Gilded Age’ mansions still exist. I bet most people don’t see this row of grand old mansions that are now being used as stores and embassies. I am sure that a few are still private but these homes were expensive to maintain back then and went out of vogue after Income Tax was established.

Mansions on 79th Street

What’s left from the Gilded Age on East 79th Street

Really take time to walk down 79th Street on the north side between Fifth and Madison Avenues to get a good look at the detail of these stone masterpieces. They don’t build homes like this anymore and I don’t think we have the stone masons around to do them again. It is hard to believe for most of these residents this was one of four homes.

I took a quick swing into Central Park to see Cleopatra’s Needle, which is located behind the Metropolitan Museum of Art located by East 81st Street. This obelisk was erected February 22nd, 1881. It was secured in May 1877 by Judge Elbert E. Farnam, the then-United State Consul General at Cairo as a gift the Khedive for the United States for remaining friendly neutral as the European powers, France and Britain, maneuvered to secure political control of the Egyptian Government (Wikipedia). The twin was given to the British and resides London.

Cleopatra's Needle II.jpg

Cleopatra’s Needle

Although this is a genuine ancient Egyptian obelisk, it has no connection to Ptolemaic Queen Cleopatra VII of Egypt. It was already over a thousand years old in her lifetime. The obelisk, which originally stood in the ancient city of Alexandria were made during the reign of Thutmose III in the 18th Dynasty (Wikipedia). Since their arrival in New York City, there has been a lot of wear and tear on this statue and the elements have worn down a lot of the carving. Still this is something that you should not miss when visiting the neighborhood.

After I turned the corner onto East 72nd Street, I walked the length of the street until I hit FDR Drive and took a walk around the busy through-way. Walking along FDR Drive is always interesting because there is no clear path down the road. As I have said in previous walks, it is not the most scenic route and cars just love to honk at you.

As you make the turn around to head north, I discovered John Jay Park, located between East 76th  and East 78th Streets. This park is very nicely situated by the East River and offers great views of the ever changing Queens waterfront. I swear, they must be knocking everything down on that side of the river to build new apartment buildings. They must have great views of the skyline.

John Jay Park

John Jay Park

John Jay was a prominent statesman and was elected the President of the First Continental Congress in 1778. He served as Minister to Spain, drafted New York’s first constitution in 1777, served as the first Chief Justice of the Supreme Court (1789-1795) and lastly served two consecutive terms as the Governor of New York (1795-1801). Imagine in today’s turmoil in the government trying to do all that. A very impressive man with a very impressive park named after him (NYC Parks History).

John Jay

John Jay, Statesman

Another unique feature to the park is the sculptures installed on the west side of the park in 1979 by artist Douglas Abdell. These are made of welded steel, painted black and are meant to frame space and define irregular areas. He has been quoted as saying, “that each sculpture as a building block of something potentially more complex as the alphabet is the basis of the written language” and calls the works “The Aebyad Series” (NYC Parks History).

Douglas Abdell artist.jpg

Douglas Abdell with his work

This two structures are located just south of the entrance of the park and are very geometric looking, done in twisted black steel. They are in the pathway between East 75th and 76th Streets. Take time to really look at them. The work is unique.

Abdell Statue.jpg

Abdell Statue in John Jay Park

Outside the views of the park and the art work, they also house much needed public bathrooms so plan your trip accordingly as there are no public bathrooms until you hit Carl Schurz Park up on East 84th Street.

Across the street from the park is a very unusual apartment building, 516 & 517 Cherokee Place, with the most beautiful wrought iron features along all the windows. It looks like something built for New Orleans. The green color of the metal accents the building perfectly and meshes well with the greens of the park. This historic building lines the park and when you look in has a courtyard. It really does add something to the park and P.S. 158 next door. That extra character that makes the neighborhood.

Cherokee Place

Cherokee Place Apartments by John Jay Park

I did the whole walk around John Jay Park along Cherokee Place and watched as some city workers were cleaning and sweeping the outside of the park. God, did they give me a funny look when I watched them. They actually looked guilty (they could have done a better job of cleaning up the leaves and garbage).

I took an unusual path as I walked up the elevated extension of FDR Drive, which offers great views of the river along the waterfront to Carl Schurz Park and then I doubled back and walked up and down East End Avenue, which only goes from East 79th Street to East 90th Street. I swear that most of East End Avenue is being knocked down for newer big apartment buildings. This is what I mean by the character of the neighborhood changing. The whole block felt like it was under scaffolding. I walked up and down both sides of the block to see the work being done.

Carl Schurz Park IV

Carl Schulz Park in the early Spring

I doubled back and walked up and down York Avenue as well. It is also under the same transition but only on the Avenue sides.  There are some nice businesses and restaurants along York Avenue you can stop at along the way. I stopped back at Carl Schurz Park at East 84th Street for a breather and to just look at the view. It really has the most spectacular view of Randalls-Ward Island and Roosevelt Island and the East River and on a sunny warm day, it is a nice place for break.

Roosevelt Tram

Roosevelt Island

I could hear all the noise and commotion from the kids at P.S. 158 at 78th and York Avenue, who were either playing outside in the cool weather or singing in one of the classes. I swear not much has changed since I went to elementary school. The school is a beautiful old building that was built in the late 1800’s and just went through a full renovation to bring it back to its elegant beauty. This was built at a time when education was truly valued. I could not believe all the parents waiting outside talking amongst themselves in the cold.

I continued walking east across East 84th Street, the border of Yorkville with the Upper East Side and took a lunch break at 83 Asian at 1605 Second Avenue (See review on TripAdvisor and DiningonaShoeStringinNYC.Wordpress.com) and a much needed sit. The food is excellent here and over two trips to it made the cut for my own blog site.

Asian 83

Asian 83

For lunch, I ordered a Beef with String Beans that was freshly cooked in front of me and came out on a timely basis steaming hot. The beef was so tender and was cooked in a combination of what seemed like soy and Hunan sauce with perfectly cooked string beans. The portion size for lunch was large and was my lunch and dinner. Their eggrolls are really good as well full of pork and vegetables. The service is really good as well as the cooks are friendly and very welcoming. Lunch cost only $10.10!

I walked the rest of East 84th Street until I hit Central Park again and then walked down the opposite side of Fifth Avenue near the museum and started in the other direction. On the north side of East 72nd Street, there is a graceful and elegant building that was once the Henry T. Sloane Mansion that is located at 9 East 72nd Street.

The confectionery of a building was designed Carrere & Hastings in the late French Renaissance style in 1894 and built for Henry T. Sloane, the son of the founders of the carpet firm W & J Sloane. It housed a private school until recently and is now once again a private home. Look up at all the beautiful detail work in the stone and the accents along the roof of the house. The masonry is superb and the house has been been so nicely restored.

Henry Sloane Mansion

Henry Sloane Mansion

Having walked both sides of FDR Drive (to what you can), East End Avenue and York Avenue, I re-walked York Avenue again to look at the Henderson Place homes by Carl Schurz Park and East 86th Street one more time. These homes are such a special and unique part of the neighborhood and if the builders had known how expensive they would become 100 years later would have probably built more of them.

Henderson Historical District

Henderson Place Historic District by Carl Schulz Park

Having walked both sides of Fifth Avenue and all of East 84th I took a pit stop at Glaser’s Bakery at 1670 1st Avenue (Now Closed: see my review on TripAdvisor and DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com) for some dessert. I swear that I think I am walking the Upper East Side first just so that I can go there before I take the subway back downtown. I love this place!

Glazer's Bake Shop

Glaser’s Bakery (Now closed)

The ladies recommended a sugar cake doughnut ($1.25) and the apple turnover ($2.50) and since I could not decide between the two, I bought both and God, were they good. The apple turnover alone had the sweetest and tartest apples and a thick layer of icing that made the twelve block by nine block walk well worth it. I figured I could just walk them off again. I highly recommend the cake doughnuts as well.

I was finished doing the perimeter of the neighborhood just as it was getting dark so I will be doing all the Avenues and Streets for another day. There is a lot more to see and do on the Upper East Side of Manhattan.

Things to see:

Cleopatra’s Needle

Located behind the Metropolitan Museum of Art @ East 81st Street

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g60763-d1959031-Reviews-Cleopatra_s_Needle-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

My review on VisitingaMuseum.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/visitingamuseum.com/1855

 

John Jay Park

Between East 76th and 78th Street off Cherokee Place

New York, NY  10021

(212) 794-6566

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

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

 

Carl Schurz Park

Between East 84th Street and East 90th Street off East End Avenue

New York, NY 10021

(212) 459-4455

https://www.carlschurzparknyc.org/

Open: 6:00am-12:00am

 

Henry T. Sloane House

9 East 72nd Street

New York, NY 10021

(Private Home)

 

Henderson Place

East End Avenue between East 86th and East 88th Streets across from Carl Schurz Park

New York, NY 10021

(Private Homes)

 

The Abdell Statues

Between East 75th and 76th Streets in John Jay Park

New York, NY  10021

 

Restaurants:

Glaser’s Bakery (now closed)

1670 1st Avenue

New York, NY  10128

(212) 289-2562

http://www.glasersbakeshop.com

My Review on Tripadvisor:

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

My review on DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@wordpress.com:

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

 

83 Asian Chinese Cuisine

1605 2nd Avenue

New York, NY  10028

Phone: (212) 288-0622 & 0633

Fax: (212) 288-0699

My review on Tripadvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d13433935-Reviews-83_Asian_Chinese_Cuisine-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

My review on DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/diningonashoestringinnyc.wordpress.com/534

 

 

 

Day Ninety: Walking the streets in the Yorkville/Carnegie Hill neighborhood from 95th Street to 84th Street between Fifth Avenue and East End Avenue September 13th-28th, 2017

I finally finished the Avenues of the neighborhood and started walking the streets. It can be a tiring process since it is a nine block walk in the lower parts of the neighborhood. My first day in the Yorkville/Carnegie Hill section I covered everything from 96th Street to 90th Street. It also rained part of the afternoon which is no fun.

As much as it was a gloomy day, watching the kids let out of school that day boosted my energy. I forgot what it is like when a long day of school is over. These kids come out of the building with so much pent-up energy. All the laughing and yelling brought back a lot of good memories.

I took the Q back up to 96th Street and made a round about down FDR Drive to 92nd Street to start the walk. I knew I would not have time to do the whole neighborhood and wanted to break it up into two parts doing the neighborhood above 90th Street first.

As I turned the corner, I could feel the energy from the students who were leaving MS114 on 92nd Street for the afternoon. There was so much noise and excitement after a long day at school. It seems that this neighborhood is loaded with excellent schools both for high school and the lower grades as well.

Yorkville is home to many public and private schools. While walking around between 90th and 92nd Streets, the neighborhood is home to some of the best schools in the city. Hunter High School, The Dalton School, Nightingale-Bramford, Spence School and Chapin School are all located closer to Central Park. All of these schools have had excellent reputations since I was in high school in the eighties. Even the public schools in the neighborhood such as MS-114 have some of the best reputations in the New York City.

No matter the kids, they are still excited and noisy when they leave school and all have their cliques. They fill the smaller neighborhood restaurants and bodegas after school and yell at each other when crossing the street. It is a very lively neighborhood after 2:00pm in the afternoon between the students and the parents picking some of them up. It is nice to see parents who still give that independence to their kids to walk alone in the neighborhood with their friends. They travel in packs anyway. Ten to one these kids know how to handle themselves.

There is a nice pocket park at 92nd Street and Second Avenue to sit and relax. Located between the buildings on 92nd Street, it still has traces of the summer left with flowers blooming and the trees are still green. Its a nice place to take a breather and watch the neighborhood go by.

This is a neighborhood with a real family feel to it. Something I did not experience in the neighborhood before school started, when the streets were quiet as people were still on vacation but now that school is back in session, it has really changed. I can see by the amount of parents, both men and women, talking time out to pick up their children from school and talk with them on the way home that they are very involved in their children’s lives. Some of the conversations I overheard were a little mature for kids that age but I have always found the city kids to be a little more ‘hip’ to things than their suburban counterparts.

There are some great children’s stores in the area and loads of family friendly restaurants in the neighborhood. One store that I stopped at was La Librarie Des Enfants at 163 92nd Street. This quirky little bookstore sells the most unique French language children’s picture books with a small selection of American books. It reminded me of ‘Shop Around the Corner’ in the movie, “You got Mail”.

La Librarie des Enfants

La Librarie Des Enfants

Beautifully decorated with pretty displays and set up for the avid reader. The French salesman was very talkative to me and knows his merchandise. This is the perfect spot for local children and tourists looking for that unusual gift.

La Librarie des Enfants II

La Librarie Des Enfants inside play area

Another store that is a neighborhood staple is Children’s General Store at 168 East 91st Street near Second Avenue. This whimsical store is a hark back to when kids actually had an imagination and did not look at a cell phone all day. This is for the creative child who likes board games and arts & crafts, make believe castles and all the great little items that we as adults would call ‘stocking stuffers’. If I was a kid again, this is the first place I would visit. It has a great selection of toys for the young at heart.

As you walk the side streets of the neighborhood, you can see that on the Avenues of the neighborhood, brownstones are giving way to large newer apartment buildings but on the streets in between them are still elegant graceful brownstones lining the streets of the upper 90’s some of the most beautiful between Lexington and Park Avenues.

There are some beautiful wooden homes lining the streets between Lexington and Park Avenue on 92nd and 91st Streets from a day long ago. To see these buildings still standing and in perfect shape is a testament of the care they receive and how well they were built in the early 1800’s. All four of these homes have special plaques on them and you should take the time to admire the work on them. Their owners have kept them in excellent shape.

As I walked around the high 90’s by 1st, 2nd and FDR Drive around the Isaacs Housing, the area is being knocked down and rebuilt with more luxurious apartment buildings and stores to match. Here and there, there is still a sprinkling of stores and restaurants that cater to people in the housing projects but this area around the housing projects just keeps changing and getting more expensive. Like the rest of uptown that I walked, many people don’t seem to have a problem living across the street from the projects.

What the neighborhood has that caters to everyone is the amount of parks in the neighborhood. You have Central Park to the west, Carl Schurz Park to the East,  Asphalt Green playground by York Avenue past 92nd Street as well as the Isaacs and the Seaburg playgrounds on 96th Street as well as a few pocket parks in the 90’s. There is plenty of places for kids to play sports or just hang out and enjoy the playgrounds. The public bathrooms do still need to be worked on in these parks.

Isaacs Houses.jpg

Isaacs Houses

Stanley Myer Isaacs was one of New York City’s  great lawyer’s and civic leaders and was Borough President of Manhattan. He helped Robert Moses, the great Parks Director build East River Drive (now FDR Drive). Judge Seabury was decended from one of the original settlers of New York and the first Bishop of New York,  Dr. Samuel Seabury III. As a public servant to the City, he helped fight corruption within Tammany Hall and lead many reforms in New York City (NYCParks.org).

Stanley Myer Isaacs.jpg

Stanley M. Isaacs

The evening of the first night walking the streets of Yorkville, I ate at Timmy’s Restaurant on 91st and York (See review on TripAdvisor). It is a wonderful little neighborhood restaurant with outdoor seating and an extensive American menu across the street from Asphalt Green playground. I could hear the kids across the street playing soccer and screaming as they played.

The weather had finally cleared and it was a nice warm night out, perfect for sitting outside and enjoying the breeze. What had caught my eye on the menu was the fresh soft-shell sandwich that the restaurant was running as a special. It was excellent. A lightly breaded and fried soft shell crab on a soft brioche roll with lettuce and tomato and fresh French fries and onion rings on the side made the perfect meal.

The crab was sweet with the crunchiness of the perfect sauté. The service is friendly and very welcoming and I highly recommend the restaurant while it is still warm out. It is nice to just sit outside and watch the world go by.

I started my second day in the neighborhood by walking the streets between 90th and 84th Streets. The weather during these two weeks really changed. One day it was boiling hot at 90 degrees and the last day in the neighborhood, it went down into the 60’s as September moved into October. I have never seen such a drastic change in a week and a half.

After another day of working the Bread station at the Soup Kitchen, it was off to the lower section of Yorkville/Carnegie Hill. I walked the top part of 84th Street between Fifth Avenue and East End Avenue, admiring the brownstones and small parks along the way. It got to be that time of the day and school let out. I have never seen such a swarm of children before.

Walking this part of the neighborhood, I noticed more that there is a large concentration not just of private, public and religious schools but all of the seem to be the best of their categories.  These are not just the best in their categories in the city but in the state and country as well. The neighborhood that stretches from 96th to 84th Streets has such a great variety of schools that would make the rest of the country envious.

As I have said on previous walks, the conversations between parents and kids are always interesting to hear. These school kids sound so much more mature than their age. These kids talk politics, sports and current events just as good as any adult.

The lower parts of the streets from about 85th to 87th Streets really show old New York at its best with rows and rows of majestic brownstones and old apartment houses. Some of these are starting to get decorated for the Fall holidays noting the change in weather and October approaching. Pumpkins and haystacks are starting to replace the summer wreaths and pots of flowers.

I started my tour of the neighborhood with a nice lunch at Arturo’s Pizza on the corner of York Avenue and 85th Street, 1610 York Avenue (See Review on TripAdvisor) for their lunch special. They have three really reasonable lunch specials until 3:30pm, one a meatball sub, another a sausage sub and the last being two slices with a Coke for $5.00. It was quite a deal.

Arturo's Pizza

Arturo’s Pizza for great lunch specials

The food is good but could be better. Yet they give you a nice size sub for $5.00. The meatball sub was loaded with fresh cut meatballs which were a nice size with tomato sauce on excellent fresh chewy bread. As big as it was it just did not have enough flavor. The sauce needed more spice and the meatballs more salt and cheese. It just did not taste like anything. It was  the same two days later when finishing the walk of the neighborhood after a disastrous Chinese meal.

I had the two slice special and found the pizza to have no flavor because there was no zing to the sauce. It was also oily and should have been heated up more. The food here should be better since they seem to take pride in it. It warrants a third trip as the portion is worth the money when you are hungry. They do need to concentrate on their tomato sauce though and add some spice to it.

There are more great stores for kids in the lower part of the neighborhood as well. I passed Baby Bubble at 240 88th Street, which specializes in cleaning anything kid from strollers to clothes. I was impressed by the one stop shopping. Another great little store for young women is Let’s Dress Up at 345 East 85th Street #1. This is a place where you can princess for day and be treated like royalty at your own catered birthday party. Another clear idea for the creative child within.

When walking through the side streets between 85th to 87th Streets between York and Third Avenue, you really see ‘old New York’. Rows and rows of beautiful graceful brownstones line the street with their small outside gardens and potted plants. It is a step back in time to another era until you hit the Avenues and see the large modern apartment building.

I passed several fire stations along the way in the neighborhood. Engine 22; Ladder 13, Battalion 10 is located on 159 East 85th Street. The plaque on their fire station said that they had lost nine members on 9/11. These brave men sacrificed so much for us and still do every day making their neighborhood safe. Another old fashioned non-functioning firehouse is Hook & Ladder 13 at 159 East 87th Street. Founded in 1865 as a ‘suburban’ firehouse, this is not longer the firehouse for the company which has been moved. The company’s fame comes from being involved in the deadly explosion on Park Place in 1891. Kudos to these brave members of the FDNY.

Hook and Ladder 13

Hook & Ladder 13 in Yorkville

As you continue down 87th Street, there is a creepy set of brownstones between 337-339 East 87th Street. The motifs on the outside of the building look like devils or ghouls and do give you the chills. It looks like a place where ‘Rosemary’s Baby’ lived when it grew up. I would love to pass these building on Friday the 13th or Halloween night. This creepy looking brownstone was built between 1886-1887 by architect Henry Janeway Hardenbergh for the Rhinelander estate and what is interesting about the story is that the 329-335 were knocked down for the apartment building next store and the motif of this devil looking motif is carved out of 337 East 87th Street (Starts and Fits). Very interesting.

339 East 87th Street

337-339 East 87th Street

Don’t miss the ghoul like carving at 439 East 87th Street. I don’t think that one is as old. This menacing face adorns that archway of the brownstone of this two unit home that was built in 1901.

I had to stop at Milano Market at 1582 Third Avenue on the corner of 87th Street and 3rd Avenue to cool down. The place is so beautifully set up and the prepared food section is picturesque. It is a nice place to just stand and take a breath. The place is heavily air conditioned and on a humid day, it is a great place to just walk around. The online reviews are not too pleasant for as good as their food is most of the reviews talk about rude service. I will have to go back and try it out to be fair on them.

Another place to chill out and relax on a hot day is the Church of the Holy Trinity garden at 316 East 88th Street near Second Avenue.  This beautifully landscaped garden surrounded by shade trees is the perfect place to relax on a long day. It really does offer solitude from the city and is an escape from the rest of the landscape. It was still warm so the flowers were out and the trees offered a lot of shade.

Ruppert Park is the same located at Second Avenue between 90th and 91st Street. Named after the famous German Brewer Jacob Ruppert, the park is part of the tower complex that surrounds it. Mr. Ruppert was one of the first co-owners of the Yankees and co-owned Yankee Stadium.

Ruppert Park

Ruppert Park

This is a wonderful park to watch the dog walkers pass by and converse with one another. This is a true neighborhood park where neighbors talk and swap stories and debate politic, seniors come to relax and watch the neighbors go by and the dogs engage with one another. It is a great park for the dog walking set. I have never seen so many small pampered dogs walking around one neighborhood.

Another great place to visit is Henderson Place at East End Avenue across from Carl Schurz Park and between 86th and 87th Streets. This is part of the Henderson Place Historical District located facing the park is what is left of the original 32 houses (24 survive today) that were built between 1881-82. They were built for people of ‘moderate means’ meanwhile now these rare little townhouses with their arched hallways and small gardens and rare parking lots are now worth about $4.6 million when one went on sale recently. They were built in the Queen Ann style of architecture and look so elegant at night when walking on the park side of the street.

Henderson Historical District.png

Henderson Place Historic District

I stopped at Glaser’s Bakery at 1670 First Avenue (see review on TripAdvisor and DiningonaShoeStringinNYC-now closed) and all I have to say is YUM! I love discovering new bakeries around the city especially one that has been around since 1902. Everything here is delicious and very reasonable. In this hyper-gentrifying city it is nice to see a piece of ‘old New York’ alive and well. Both afternoons I came here the place was mobbed.

Glazer's Bake Shop

Glaser’s Bake Shop (now closed)

The pastries are mind blowingly good! The first time I went I had to get one of their black and white cookies ($2.25) are the rage of the internet. Everyone was not kidding. They are excellent. Not the usual fondant icing but more of a butter cream frosting they literally melt in your mouth. They have this Danish called a Crumb Cookie ($3.25) that is loaded on top with sweet cinnamon crumbs and lots of icing on top. It is so big I had to bring the rest home. Their doughnuts ($1.50) are worth the trip alone. The jelly doughnuts are filled with a sweet currant type jelly and their sugar doughnuts are loaded with a layer of cinnamon sugar. Do not miss this bakery when visiting New York City.

On the opposite note, I ate dinner that day at Five Luck Chinese restaurant on 1834 Second Avenue (see review on TripAdvisor) right near the new Q subway line. It was the worst Chinese meal I had ever eaten! I had no idea that food cooked by Chinese could be this bad. First the place is old and depressing to eat in and I have eaten at loads of these little hole in the wall restaurants all over the city. If anyone from China ate here, they would laugh and then cry it is that bad.

I ordered a Shredded Pork with Garlic Sauce with fried rice with a pork Egg Roll. Now when I think of Shredded Pork with Garlic Sauce, I think of sliced pork loin sautéed with brown Hunan Sauce with garlic and ginger. I got this gloppy roast pork with a pile of uncooked vegetables with a side of yellow rice with a ton of bean sprouts in them. I had no clue what I was eating. I ate the egg roll and it was barely passable as a frozen egg roll.

The dish was worse than any middle school cafeteria version of Chinese food. I ate three bites on it and handed it back to them and said to the owner that it was inedible. Rather than fight over a dish that cost $4.85 or ask for anything else, I walked out and never looked back. Avoid this place like the plague. I went back to Arturo’s for their pizza.

I finished my last day of my three day trip relaxing in Carl Schurz Park. Carl Schurz was a very interesting man who did a lot for his country. Born in Prussia, he fought during the Revolution and escaped the country to immigrate to Paris when he was on the losing side. He and his wife immigrated to the United States in 1852. Here he served as a Brigadier General in the Civil War, after the War he served as a U.S. Senator, Secretary of the Interior under President Hayes working to fight corruption in the Office of Indian Affairs and after his stint in the government, went back to his newspaper work (Wiki).Carl Schurz

Carl Schurz

Mayor de Blasio must have been having a party because everyone in the park could hear the band. On this warm night every dog walker and child with a parent must have been in the park. Even at twilight, the place was mobbed as well as the river walk with people admiring the river views. It is still summer and I got a nice taste of it today. What a beautiful neighborhood to live in. This is a family’s dream.

Carl Schurz Park III.jpg

Carl Schurz Park

 

Access to the neighborhood: The 6 & Q subways. Stop at 96th Street

 

Places to Visit:

 

La Librarie Des Enfants

163 92nd Street

New York, NY  10128

(646) 590-2797

Open: Sunday 10:00am-5:00pm/Monday-Friday 10:00am-6:00pm/Saturday 10:00am-7:00pm

My review on TripAdvisor:

 

Children’s General Store

168 East 91st Street (between Lexington and Third Avenues)

New York, NY  10128

(212) 426-4479

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g60763-d210163-Reviews-The_Children_s_General_Store-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

 

Carl Schurz Park

East 84th Street to East 90th Street

East End Avenue to the East River

New York City, NY  10128

https://www.carlschurzparknyc.org/

My review on VisitingaMuseum.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/visitingamuseum.com/2714

 

Ruppert’s Park

1741 Second Avenue

New York, NY  10128

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

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

 

Issacs Playground

East 95th Street to East 97th Street

New York, NY  10128

https://www.nycgovparks.org/parks/stanley-isaacs-playground

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

 

 

Places to Eat:

 

Timmy’s Restaurant (now closed)

1737 York Avenue

New York, NY  10128

(212) 860-9191

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d1160556-Reviews-Timmy_s-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

 

Arturo’s Pizza

1610 York Avenue Front #2

New York, NY  10028

(212) 288-2430

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d479377-Reviews-Arturo_s_Pizza-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

 

Milano Market

1582 Third Avenue

New York, NY  10128

(212) 996-6681

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d5084566-Reviews-Milano_Market-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

 

Glaser’s Bakery (Closed)

1670 First Avenue

New York, NY  10128

(212) 289-2562

My review on TripAdvisor:

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

My review on DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com:

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

 

 

Day Seventy-Nine: Walking the border of Manhattan Valley from West 110th Street to West 96th Street from Riverside Drive to Central Park West July 16, 2017

I walked a tremendous amount of miles today. I had wanted to see three cultural sites before I left the Harlem area. I wanted to visit the Museum of Arts & Letters, The Studio Art Museum of Harlem and Grant’s Tomb. So my trip on this hot Sunday started at the 157th Street One Subway station. I had wanted to start at the Museum of Arts & Letters.

The whole campus that the museum shares with the Hispanic Society was closed for renovation,  so I walked from 155th Street to 122nd Street to tour the Grants Tomb National Memorial. The tomb is open only at certain times so I wanted to get to the park early.

It has only been three months since I left this part of Harlem and a lot has changed. Even I can’t keep up with all the changes as I was walking down Broadway. Many of the businesses that I passed have since closed. Many of the storefronts as you get closer to the SUNY campus around 140th Street to about 132nd Street have converted to small trendy restaurants and clothing stores. Many of the older businesses that had catered to the neighborhood Hispanic customer now have ‘For Rent’ signs or are being updated for a more diverse customer.  I had seen this happen in the short time I was walking Inwood in upper Manhattan.

When I got to Grant’s Tomb at 122nd Street (See TripAdvisor review and story on my blog ‘VisitingaMuseum’), there were already a couple parties going on around the park area. On a nice day, there are always birthday parties for kids in the park around the tomb. People in the neighborhood love to spend time with their families here and in the other parts that surround the area.

There were not that many people touring the tomb and the building itself so it was nice to take my time. Designed by architect John Hemenway Duncan in 1883 and the tomb was dedicated on April, 1897 on the 75th Anniversary of President Grant’s birth. The President’s remains were placed here right before the dedication and his wife was buried here in 1902 (Wiki/NYC Parks).

The vaults are amazing with paintings on the ceiling of scenes of his life that were put up in recent years. The crypts of him and his wife, Julia,  are on the bottom level of the tomb surrounded by the busts of generals that fought in the Civil War with him. It does not take that long to tour the tomb or the gift shop. I learned a lot about our 18th President Grant by watching a film on him. I never knew at the end that he died broke and what saved the family were his memoirs. Amazing the things that happen in peoples lives in the end.

After the tour of the tomb, I walked down to the Studio Art Museum of Harlem and toured several of the exhibitions.  The museum is located at 144 West 125th Street (See review on TripAdvisor and on my blog “Visitingamuseum”) and is open for viewing for free on Sundays with the support of Target Stores. The museum is small and only take about an hour to two hours to see all the exhibitions which is nice. Some museums the exhibitions are endless and it takes hours to see and absorb everything. The Studio Art Museum exhibitions are detailed but on a smaller scale.

I was able to see artist Rico Gatson’s exhibition on 70’s influenced art, Jamel Shabazz’s exhibition of photo’s around 125th Street, which I don’t know if you could do today without releases and the “Regard the Figure” exhibition, which is in the front of the gallery on figures that influenced the curator. All were very interesting and had their own unique perspective of the culture. I was able to get through all three exhibitions in less than two hours. After viewing the exhibits, I sat on their outside patio to relax for awhile. It was a hot day and I just needed to cool off in the shade. There had been a nice crowd in the museum that afternoon.

After the Art Studio of Harlem, I walked down to the business district of 116th Street and went for some lunch. Like the rest of Harlem, things are opening and closing so fast you can’t keep up with them. Half the customers on 116th Street are White and Asian. A lot of people from Columbia University and the Upper West Side who are starting to come to this area to eat. There are many innovative restaurants opening up on the 116th Street row.

I had lunch at Harlem Pizza Company, 135th West 116th Street, a restaurant that I had passed and had read online that was very good (See review on TripAdvisor). The pizza was wonderful and the service was very friendly and welcoming. I sat in the outdoor seating area and it had cooled down a bit since it was later in the afternoon.

The restaurant is excellent and I highly recommend it. I had a personal 12 inch pizza with sausage and soppressata that was perfectly cooked, the meats and sauce were highly spiced and was gooey and delicious. It was nice to just eat and watch the world walk by. It is a very relaxing that afternoon.

My next stage of the walk included walking Manhattan Valley, another name for the Upper Upper West Side. This area includes from West 110th Street from Riverside Drive to the West and Central Park North to the East and West 96th Street to the South. I was able to ring the neighborhood and work off breakfast and lunch at the same time.

I started the later part of the afternoon walking from Morningside Park to Central Park West. God, was the park busy. There must have been four birthday parties, two barbecues, five basketball games, a soccer game and a softball league playing in various areas of the park.

A lot has changed in this side of town in the last 25 years. It is a major change from the mid-80’s when most of this area was abandoned. I remember seeing pictures of this area in the late 80’s and all through the 90’s and it was not such a nice area. Most of the housing was run down, Riverside Park was over-grown and sensible people did not travel above 86th Street.

I had dinner with a vendor my last year at Macy’s in 1995 on 92nd Street and the vendors and my boss at the time said to take the subway to 86th and walk up. I took it to 96th and walked down and even then I could see what they were talking about. It was run down but didn’t seem dangerous. Two weekends later I got adventurous and walked up to Columbia University. Those were the years where fences were put on the entrances to Morningside Park.  A lot of the buildings were abandoned and boarded up by 100th and the further you got from Central Park the worse it got. I had even overheard two Columbia students talking about the fires in buildings across Morningside Park the evening before. You would not see any of that today.

I was not surprised on how nice it was to walk around now. This area has improved so much in the last thirty years and keeps getting nicer and more expensive. Pretty much everything until the 130’s on this side of the island is getting a facelift. The east side of the island over 100th is more juxtaposed. All along Fredrick Douglas Boulevard, Malcolm X Boulevard and Adam Clayton Powell Boulevard new restaurants, cafe’s and shops have opened catering to a diverse group of New Yorkers.

I started my walk down Central Park West, walking past the apartments on the other side of the park. Everything has changed so much up here. Almost all the apartments facing the Central Park now are luxury homes and apartment buildings sandblasted back to their original elegance. Each building has its own unique style. The best part of them is there view of the park must be amazing.

I passed some unusual historical sites and art work along the way. At the entrance of the subway station at Broadway and 96th Street is a statue of a woman holding her child by the artist, Joy Brown. This very whimsical statue is part of a collection of statues that line Broadway and a map is provided at each site to find them. Some of the people thought it might be the Madonna and child. I guess everyone has their interpretation of it. There were a lot of families taking pictures by it when I was there.

At the corner of 96th Street and West End Avenue is a plaque to Teresa Carseno, a famous pianist who lived at the Delha Robbins Apartments back at the turn of the last century. I had no clue how famous she was but she had travelled over the world performing and had interesting relationships that spread to four husbands. She was quite the character at the turn of the last century.

When I made the turn around at 96th Street, there is no exit so be prepared to walk down to 95th Street and go under the tunnel by Riverside Park. Go under and around and take some time to walk through Riverside Park and take in the view.  I had walked through this area last summer on my way up to 155th Street after some time at the American Museum of Natural History. It is nice to see the park in full bloom again.

I passed the Firemen’s Memorial at Riverside Drive at 100th Street and the Shiron Shonia Memorial at 105th Street. I have seen these before and the Firemen’s Memorial means a lot to me being a fireman. Its nice to see the memorial being visited and flowers being left. The Shonin memorial was dedicated to Buddhism.

Along Riverside Drive between 107th and 108th Street, there is a majestic set of mansions that line Riverside Park. These are going under renovation but still the detail work on these homes is very elegant and must have been something when they were built at the turn of the last century. They stand out amongst all the apartment buildings that line the park.

As I turned around at 110th Street and walked back around the same route on the other side of the street. One of the most beautiful spots along Riverside Avenue is between 96th and 97th Streets with a line of shade trees that must be over 100 years old. It is just so graceful and humbling to see these huge trees and the way they shade and lead the path down this part of the sidewalk. Its nature at its best.

I passed Central Park on the park side of Central Park West and when you reach around 100th Street, you see the rock formations that line the avenue.  This is a result of the last Ice Age and I had seen similar formations uptown. Again this is when you realize that Manhattan is not flat. Nature takes over when you see the trees and plants growing through the cracks. This picturesque part of the park with trees, bushes and flowers sticking out here and there through the formations. Its wall is what separates the park from the street.

When reaching 110th Street at the corner of that and Central Park West, several new buildings are built around the circle of the two streets. Modern architecture dominates this part of the street and ushers in a new beginning to this once destitute section of the neighborhood as a gateway to a new beginning for the neighborhood. The lines of the Upper West Side and Harlem on this side of the island are beginning to blur.

We’ll see more as we visit more of the neighborhood on a tour of the streets and avenues. I ended the day with a trip to McDonalds just off 96th Street and Amsterdam Avenue (See review on TripAdvisor). That McDouble and fries tasted so good as they were freshly cooked for me. The best is their frozen Strawberry Lemonade which cooled me down inside and out. It is one of the best things recently added to the McDonalds menu and a perfect drink for a hot summer day.

Places to Eat:

Harlem Pizza Company

135 West 116th Street

New York, NY  10026

(212) 222-9889 http://www.harlempizzaco.com

My review on TripAdvisor:

 

McDonald’s

2459 Broadway

New York, NY  10025

(212) 864-8138

http://www.mcdonalds.com

My review on TripAdvisor:

My review on DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com:

 

Places to Visit:

 

Grant’s Tomb

West 122nd Street & Riverside Drive

New York, NY  10027

http://www.grantstomb.org

Open: Monday & Tuesday Closed/Sunday, Wednesday-Saturday 10:00am-5:00pm

My review on TripAdvisor:

My review on VisitingaMuseum.com:

 

Studio Art Museum of Harlem

144 West 125th Street

New York, NY  10027

(212) 864-4500

Open: Currently closed for renovation

http://www.studiomuseum.org

My review on TripAdvisor:

My review on VisitingaMuseum:

 

Firemen’s Memorial

West 100th Street & Riverside Drive

New York, NY 10025

(212) 639-9675

http://www.nycgovparks.org/parks/memorial

 

 

 

 

Day Sixty-Seven: Walking SoHA (South of Harlem: Morningside Heights, South Harlem & Spanish Harlem) from 125th Street to 110th Street from river to river February 22, 2017

I started the day walking 125th Street again on a beautiful sunny February day. It must have been 62 degrees out, sunny and glorious.  The kids in the city like in the suburbs were off from school for the winter break, so everyone was outside in the parks enjoying the warm weather. The streets were crowded with people walking their dogs, students from Colombia walking around between classes and neighborhood children playing football and baseball in the parks.

With all the area above 125th finally complete, I have started to walk the neighborhoods below traditional Harlem and above the Upper East and West sides. Morningside Heights is the area bordered by Morningside Avenue to 110th to 125th to Riverside Square Park, South Harlem is from Fredrick Douglas Boulevard, South Harlem is bordered again from Fredrick Douglas Boulevard to Fifth Avenue from 110th to 125th Streets and Spanish Harlem from 5th Avenue to FDR Drive  from 110th to 125th Streets. So this time to make it easier I have broken it up into three sections to do the walk.

I started the walk today at 125th Street at Morningside Avenue walking shoppers and tourists milling around the shopping district at 125th Street. The whole shopping district is going through a transformation from old cut-rate stores and family businesses to a series of chain restaurants, stores and gyms. Every business you find in a suburban strip mall are coming to Harlem from TJMax and Rainbow to Red Lobster and Olive Garden. It is pretty shocking how fast it has changed but even more how the flavor of the area is being adjusted to tourism.

Another surprising aspect of the neighborhood is how nice it has gotten. Gone are the days that Colombia University had to practically erect walls to keep the neighborhood out. Colombia students like their fellow SUNY students thirty blocks up are starting to move in and take over this neighborhood. The South Harlem area is awash with scaffolding of people renovating the buildings and new restaurants and shops.

Morningside Park, which pretty much is the traditional border between the university and Harlem has been renovated over the past twenty years and is no longer the dismal overgrown park that you would get mugged in if you entered. My dad went to Colombia in the 60’s and my cousin in the 80’s and in those years, you would never enter the park. In 1993-95, the park was renovated and had new plantings and equipment installed in the park, giving it the same cheerful appearance of any other park in the city. Does it have it’s share of problems still? Like any park in New York City after dusk, you have to watch yourself.

Because of the weather being so warm at this time, the park was being spruced up with park employees raking and cleaning up the beds and lawns. The garbage was being picked up as well and the park looked clean and well planted. With it being February, not much is in bloom but you can see where tulips and daffodils are starting to pop up in the soil. Lots of people were jogging in the park, walking with baby carriages or playing sports. A far cry from the needle and crack cocaine days in the 80’s. You can see the new landscaping and water features that have been created in the park and at dusk the lights actually work.

I travelled down the road planning on visiting the park again in more detail. I turned at 110th Street and walked the entire length of 110th from west side to east side and talk about a street of extremes. As you walk towards Riverside Park, you have Colombia to the north and the very top of the Upper West Side to the south. The buildings on this side of West 110th have been sandblasted back to their original elegance and from what I can see of the residents had never really gone down hill with the rest of the neighborhood.

Amsterdam Avenue north of 110th Street has some interesting restaurants that I will need to try and I am discovering the holes in the wall that must cater to the students. Many have reasonable lunch specials and some have creative menus. I stopped in Riverside Park for a bit to relax before the long walk and the park was busy with nannies and mother’s with their kids in the 110th Street Tot Playground. The place was teaming with toddlers having a good time. The park still has not had the hint of Spring but having travelled this area last summer, it is a beautiful park when in bloom.

I walked down to Columbus Avenue and walked around the newly planted park area and discovered Hunan Chen’s Kitchen, a tiny hole in the wall restaurant at 1003 A Columbus Avenue (See review on TripAdvisor). This little restaurant has only one table and is so small you can barely turn around. What is lacks in atmosphere, it makes up in food and service.

The lady who works the counter could not have been friendlier and accommodating. The prices were so cheap that you can order a nice meal for under $10.00 that could feed two people and for $5.00 you can buy a nice snack in their appetizer and soup section. I ordered an eggroll and a pint of Roast Pork Lo Mein. I must have gotten a pound of Lo Mein that was steaming hot and loaded with roast pork. It was delicious and well seasoned. The eggroll could have had more roast pork in it but was still plump and well-cooked. I was able to eat in on the benches in Morningside Park at the entrance at 110th Street. It was nice to people watch on a warm day and fun to see the students finally utilizing the park for pleasure.

After lunch, it was a the long walk to the northern stretches of Central Park and the Harlem Meer. This section of the park was packed with people. Seniors were fishing in the Meer (lake) and the kids were playing in the playground by the Lenox Avenue entrance. This area had been replanted and fixed in the late 90’s and again in the early 2000’s by the city with the help of the Central Park Conservatory. People were taking pictures of the ducks or chasing the pigeons around the park.

I had an interesting afternoon at the Charles A. Dana Discover Center located on the Meer and reading how the area was so influential in the Revolutionary War. Much of the battles had taken place in this area and the forts were located right in the park boundaries. The Battle of Harlem was not far from this spot and it was amazing how the area went back to nature once the war was over. The panels tell the story of the area and you should take about an hour and really read about the areas part in the war. On such a beautiful day the park really sparkled and it looked like a lot of adults were playing hooky on such a nice day.

Crossing Fifth Avenue to Madison Avenue is the start of the extremes of 110th Street. You will pass what was once public housing but looks like it is going ‘market rate’ with renovations and once you pass the border of Madison Avenue, you will enter Spanish Harlem and a series of public housing projects. Again this area was alive with people but the mood of the area is completely different.

The Spanish influence was all over the place. On the walls of the stores and in the restaurants and signs as well as the music. There must be at least four or five housing projects in this area in various degrees of maintenance. Some were well maintained like by the Lehman Houses. By the  Houses, it got a little scary. I would not venture in that area at night. At the end of 110th Street, you have the East River Houses, that look like a more pleasant middle-class looking development.

I walked around Thomas Jefferson Park, a space of green that needs a serious renovation. The park could use a little sprucing up from what I could see. I did not want to enter the basketball grounds due to a scary looking group of teens and walked around the edges of the park.  Just south of the park on New Street, Zip Car seems to have their headquarters and the whole lot is lined with cars.

The funny part about 110th street in this area is that it is dotted with new housing, bars and restaurants. The 20 year old set is starting to move into this area. On a rather seedy stretch of 110th, I was always looking over my shoulder until I saw some 20 year old ‘hipster’ with shorts on and an expensive IPhone playing that I felt like a jerk. Either I was the one worrying or he was putting himself at risk.

I stopped for a snack at El Chevere Cuchifritos, a Spanish restaurant, take-out place and bakery at 2000 Third Avenue for some pastilitoes. I ordered them with my broken Spanish which seemed to pass fine as the woman waiting on me understood what I said. I ordered a chicken and beef but got a cheese and they were good but not as good as some I have had in Washington Heights. They are reasonable at $1.50 each and very fresh. They have a nice selection of reasonable hot foods to take out and I just munched on them on the trip back up 110th to Fifth Avenue.

Fifth Avenue from 110th to 125th Streets was where I was lining my walk to concentrate in this area. I walked up and down Fifth Avenue to Marcus Garvey Park and walked around the park which was packed with people walking their dogs by the dog park and kids playing in the playground. Even though the avenue is lined with public housing, the area is dotted with new developments  especially on the north and west parts of the park.

The west side of Marcus Garvey Park is the Mount Morris Historical Area. This stretches from about 124th Street to 118th Street and has the most beautiful and graceful brownstones the line the side streets by the park. This area like the rest of Harlem is being sandblasted and renovated back to an earlier era and people are snatching up these homes.

I finished this park of the walk by walking down Fifth Avenue through the Taft Homes that line the streets and back down 110th and back up Morningside Avenue and then down Manhattan Avenue to finish off the walk for this part of the visit to the area.

This is a huge area to cover so I will be breaking the visit down into three sections to really see what the neighborhood has to see and offer. I have already walked the boarders of 125th Street and 110th Street and will continue on to do the avenues first and then the side streets. So join me as we explore the newest in ‘hip’ areas, SoHA.

Places to Visit:

 

Mount Morris Park (Marcus Garvey Park)

120th to 124th Street by Madison Avenue

New York, NY

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

 

Thomas Jefferson Park

2180 First Avenue

New York, NY  10029

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

 

Charles A Dana Discovery Center

Central Park North

New York, NY  10029

(212) 860-1370

Open: Sunday-Saturday 10:00am-5:00pm

My review on TripAdvisor:

 

 

Places to Eat:

Hunan Chen’s

1003 Columbus Avenue Store A

New York, NY  10025

(212) 222-1118

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

My review on TripAdvisor:

My review on DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com:

 

El Chevere Cuchifritos

2000 Third Avenue

New York, NY  10029

(212) 427-3952

Open: Sunday-Saturday 11:00am-4:00pm

My review on TripAdvisor: