I am not usually into the ‘touristy things’ in New York City but this was a special day and I wanted to experience something different. All this walking around the Island of Manhattan to explore what was there lead me to think “what about riding around it?” What does it look like from the rivers and what do the neighborhoods look like that I visited so many months or years ago? What can this modern day Henry Hudson see from the water view? This lead me to take the “Best of NYC Cruise”, the full Circle around the Island of Manhattan. It was a nice afternoon where someone else did the driving.
Unfortunately the weather was cloudy and a little gloomy but still warm with no chance of rain when I got to Pier 83 on West 42nd Street and 12th Street at 12:30pm and bought my ticket. There was a chance of clearing later in the day so I figured ‘let’s go!’ I was surprised that on a early October afternoon in the middle of the week that the boat would be so crowded. There was loads of people from different countries who had the same idea that I had that day.
The entrance to the Circle Line at Pier 83 in Manhattan
I took the last cruise of the day at 1:30pm hoping it would warm up and it ended up being in the low 70’s that afternoon, nice enough to sit outside and enjoy the sites. The Circle Line is really nice in that you can either sit in the middle of the ship and up above inside and on the top of the outside and no matter where you sit (depending on the number of people taking pictures) you will have a great view of everything. My recommendation is to sit where I sat, on the top deck, outside in the front where the isle is located. Here when you are tall you can stretch your legs especially when you are tall like me.
The tour starts out at Pier 83 on the far West Side and be prepared for a long line that goes very quickly. I have to admit that the tourists that I travelled with were a very orderly and polite bunch until we got to Liberty Island and toured around the Statue of Liberty. Even on a gloomy day it is an impressive site that I never get tired of looking at. It still to me means America and a promise of better things to come. It still amazes me after all of these years and I have been coming to the island since I was eight. You have to think that my family saw this site when they came here over a hundred years ago.
We did a two time tour around the island so that everyone could take pictures and I swear that I thought the boat would tilt with all of those people taking pictures on that side of the rail. It really was a great site to see.
The views of Lower Manhattan are still breathtaking and even after the Towers fell still and the area rebuilt it still has an air of money and power and the extent of the influence of Wall Street to the rest of the world. I don’t think there is any other city on earth that has this type of powerful image than Manhattan. There were many group shots here as well. To the other side of the boat, I could see the forts and lawns of Governours Island, which I had visited last summer.
Lower Manhattan and Governours Island
Once we were past those two photo shots, people sat and relaxed for the rest of the trip. Our next stop was South Street Seaport and the view of the Brooklyn Bridge. I think this is just as iconic as the Statue of Liberty and the view of Lower Manhattan but it did not garner that same attention. I thought it was impressive to go under the bridge and see the under workings of the it.
After going under the Brooklyn Bridge, what really impressed me was the view of the Brooklyn side of the East River. I can not believe how much the coast line had changed and the beauty of Brooklyn Bridge Park and all the buildings that have been built around it. I even saw that they have a Domino Sugar sign from the old factory building that used to be located there (Our family’s claim to fame is that it was my Great-Grandfather William Rochibowski, who used to be the man running the boilers at the factory in the early 1900’s).
Brooklyn Bridge Park is an impressive park and shows the extent of reclaimed land on the Brooklyn coastline that is being used for parks. It is impressive between the Brooklyn shoreline and Long Island City in Queens how much construction of office buildings and apartments is changing the way we look the East River. We have reclaimed the land so that everyone can use the parks and we can look at green again instead of manufacturing.
Brooklyn Bridge Park
As we crossed over East 43rd Street, I could see from the boat all the neighborhoods that I had recently visited over the summer including Turtle Bay, Sutton Place, Beekman Place and the recently visited Midtown East. I recognized all the apartment buildings and small parks that line the Manhattan side of the East River. It was interesting to see what they look like from the river side.
We passed by Roosevelt Island and I got to see the new Cornell Tech campus and the old hospital that is falling apart next to the new Franklin Delano Roosevelt Park that sits impressively on the southern tip of Roosevelt Island. It was equally impressive to see Lighthouse Park on the northern part of the island as well.
We passed the dreaded East River Houses that dominate the low 100’s along First Avenue and the bridge that will take you to Ward-Randall’s Island. Here you can see the walking paths, playing fields and the old stadium on the island. You could even see the people walking their dogs around the island and how busy it was during a work week. On the other side is HighBridge Park that lines the area from about 163rd Street to Dyckman Avenue. This park is rarely on the richter scale with tourists but it does have some of the most interesting rock formations even from the river view. It still reminds us of the Ice Age’s role in the formation of the island.
As we rounded the top half of Manhattan Island, I could see the commercial side of Inwood and Washington Heights where the Sanitation Department, Verizon and 207 Street Train Yard Facility are located. Visiting this part of the Island can be seen on this blog from Days One-Seven. It is hardly the Manhattan that most people know and you can see this even more from the river view how industrialized the area is from the deck.
When you finally cross under the Broadway Bridge under the tip of Manhattan, we crossed over to the west side of the island. We had to stop at the Amtrak bridge for them to move it for us to pass through and here you can see the giant “C” of Columbia University who has their rowing team facility in this area and their football stadium on top of the hill.
The Columbia ‘C’
It is a nice place to stop and relax as you can see the Spuyten Duyvil Creek, the Muscato Marsh (see my review on VisitingaMuseum.com) and the beginnings of Inwood Park with its large hills and virgin forest. Then you enter the Hudson River Basin and the beautiful extensive views of cliffs of the Palisades Parkway Park side of New Jersey. These areas were protected by the Rockefeller family when the area was bought for the construction of the Palisades Parkway in New Jersey and New York.
On the Manhattan side, we were treated to the woods and parks of Inwood and Riverside Parks with their wooded paths, barbecue areas and boat basins. It may not be the view Henry Hudson saw when he travelled the river but it close to it with the wooded hills. You could see the Cloisters Museum (see my reviews on TripAdvisor and VisitingaMuseum.com) from the hill in Fort Tyron Park and travelling down to where West 155th Street is located you can see the Trinity Church Cemetery with its winding hills of tombstones.
The Cloisters Museum
Going under the busy George Washington Bridge was interesting in that the bridge never slows down. It always seems to have traffic. Under the bridge you can see the historic site of the “Little Red Lighthouse” the inspiration for the children’s book “The Little Red Lighthouse and the Great Gray Bridge” (se my review on VisitingaMuseum.com).
Little Red Lighthouse
Below that is RiverBank Park on top of the Water Treatment plant. This interesting park I talked about visiting when blogging about Hamilton Heights. It has everything from ice skating to track to tennis. A fair trade off to clean our waters.
Below that it was the start of Riverside Park and seeing Grant’s Tomb where President Grant and his wife are interred (See my review on VisitingaMuseum.com) at the top of the park. In the background you can see the tops of the buildings at Columbia University.
From there we could see the beginnings of the Upper West Side and the sliver of Riverside Park that hugged the shoreline of this neighborhood. The one part that stands out is the new construction of Riverside Park South and the new park below it. These shiny towers give the West Side a contemporary modern look and show the optimism of building on this part of the Hudson River.
As we headed down the last stretch of the tour of the Hudson River on the way back to Pier 83, we passed the various piers of this part of the island showing its maritime and industrial history of the island.
Back at Pier 83
The Circle Line cruise to me was revisiting the neighborhoods I had already walked from a different perspective. When you walk the streets and parks of the island, you get to see the detail work of the buildings and the landscaped structure of the parks but from the rivers, you see it from the natural standpoint from the beauty of the parks to the dynamic of the buildings and the statements they make. It is one thing to see Grant’s Tomb or the Cloisters by visiting them and going inside of them but it is another to cruise past them and them becoming part of the landscape.
Sometimes being a tourist in New York City is fun!
My birthday Dinner:
For my birthday dinner that night, I ate at The Juicy Seafood Restaurant that I had passed when walking Turtle Bay for this blog. The Juicy Seafood at 1047A Second Avenue (see my review on TripAdvisor) is an interesting little seafood restaurant with a lively bar scene and an interesting music soundtrack playing.
The Juicy Seafood Restaurant
The food is wonderful. I had the Fried Shrimp basket ($13.00) was delicious. Eight well breaded and fried shrimp sat on top of a bed of French Fries. The shrimp were sweet and fresh and had a nice crunch to them.
The Fried Shrimp Basket
For dessert, I wanted a small birthday cake and went to Eclair Bakery at 305 East 53rd Street (see my reviews on TripAdvisor and DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com) to see what they had that night. I settled on a Lemon Cake ($4.00) that had a nice caramelized color to it and a layer of icing. This sweet dense cake perked me up immediately and was a nice way to complete my birthday evening. The simple things in life are the best!
Walking the streets of Midtown East is very different from all the other neighborhoods that I have walked so far. The character of the neighborhood differs so much in that it is mostly commercial with hotels, specialty shops, office buildings and more residential on the upper parts of the neighborhood than any other part of the City. When you walk down the side streets of Midtown East, you are usually passing a building that stretches from one block to the other with nothing much in between but a loading dock or garage for the employees. Most of the smaller buildings and brownstones have been long knocked down and replaced with large office buildings some of which the character lacks in these giant ‘glass boxes’.
I know in the past few years that New York City has allowed more innovation in building design and there has been more original designs then the original 1980’s ‘glass boxes’ but even now there are a lot of makeovers that are happening all over the neighborhood and you will be dodging scaffolding that I have not seen since my days walking Harlem. From block to block especially as you get closer to Grand Central Station, there are many closed sidewalks and you can only walk on one side of the street.
Grand Central Station sits at the head of this neighborhood
With that said, there are still many hidden treasures to find if you just look up and across and they just jump out on you. It is surprising in this ever changing neighborhood of soaring towers and busy hotels that tucked here and there are public atriums with places to sit and tiny cafes inside them that cater to the busy lunch crowd. Small brownstones here and there around the neighborhood have survived the wrecking ball and now house small cottage businesses and some upscale boutiques. I even found a few waterfalls along the way. I started my walk on the corner of Fifth Avenue and 59th Street, which is becoming like an old friend. East 59th Street with its luxury shops and hotels is going through a transition itself since the domination of the internet.
Many of the luxury stores from Steuben Glass to the old FAO Schwarz Fifth Avenue have either disappeared or have moved to other parts of Midtown. Even the Barney’s New York on Madison Avenue on the edge of the Upper East Side neighborhood has filed for bankruptcy sighting changing tastes (people just don’t dress like that anymore) and the cost of doing business in a Brick & Mortar store which such high rents. I really don’t think honestly that people can afford these places anymore and if they can, will order it online not having to deal with the sometimes indifferent service you get now in stores (I experienced this feeling in Paul Stuart when I walked in twice with shorts). The result is a lot of empty retail space.
This is changing though with the remodeling of the older office buildings with new facelifts and newer foreign stores coming into the neighborhood. Even so, look again for the open-air museum of artwork all over the streets and in the lobbies of these soaring office buildings. When walking down East 58th Street, I came across the sculpture “Rondo” by artist Tony Rosenthal in 1969 in front of 127 East 58th Street. This interesting circular sculpture is made of welded bronze.
‘Rondo’ by artist Tony Rosenthal
Tony Rosenthal was known for his large ‘Monumental Public Art Sculptures’ that appeared in cities all over the United States. Mr. Rosenthal had studied at the Chicago Institute of Art and in the 1960’s concentrated on large Abstract Geometric Sculptures. With his “Rondo” series in the 1960’s, it is noted that “Tony Rosenthal finds, discovers and reports to us what we might not have seen without him” (Tony Rosenthal biography).
Artist Tony Rosenthal in New York City
Take a look at the detail work of 480 Park Avenue on the corner of Park Avenue and East 58th Street. Designed by architect Emery Roth in 1929, notice the terracotta detail work all over the building. It is one of the great residential buildings where each apartment had working fireplaces and high ceilings.
Look at the detail work at 480 Park Avenue
One building that stands out on the corner of Lexington Avenue and East 57th Street is the Cohen Building at 135 East 57th Street with its soaring floors and interesting entrance with a ringed pavilion. This 31 story commercial office building has a unique circular path for vehicles up from and pillared terrace entrance. The architect is Kohn Pederson Fox Associates and was built in 1987 in the ‘Post-Modern’ design with a plaza in the front of a concave tower. The building is right across the street from Bloomingdale’s Department Store (NewYorkitecture).
135 East 57th Street The Cohen Building
Walking past the IBM Building again, it was nice to finally discover that the sculpture outside the building was an Alexander Calder, the famous “Saurien”, that he created to emulate a reptile. This interesting and unusual sculpture deserved a second look. Other buildings that stand out in the neighborhood have been mentioned in Day One Hundred and Forty of MywalkinManhattan.com are the Fuller Building at 41 East 57th Street and 465 Park Avenue. Look up and notice their detail and artworks that line the outside of these buildings.
Saurien by Alexander Calder
When walking around East 57th to East 56th Streets, please be careful of the security around Trump Tower. They watch everything you do and it is best to just walk around this part of the neighborhood between Fifth and Madison Avenues. Most of the buildings on this block stretch from one block to the next.
Trump Building at 725 Fifth Avenue is where the security is tight
When walking down East 55th Street from Fifth Avenue back to Lexington Avenue, stop and notice the building at 116 East 55th Street, home to the SUNY Global Center. The building was the former mansion to the Zeigler family and was built between 1926-1927. The house was designed by architect William L. Bottomley in the ‘Neo-Georgian style’ and features Flemish blond brickwork on the outside. William Zeigler Jr., who owned the house with his wife, Helen was a businessman, sportsman and philanthropist (Wiki).
Zeigler House SUNY at 116 East 55th Street
I finished the first day of the neighborhood at East 55th Street and had dinner at Tri Dim Shanghai Restaurant at 1378 Third Avenue (see review on TripAdvisor). Their food is excellent and you have to try their Soup Dumplings that they are noted for.
Tri Dim’s Soup Dumplings are excellent
They burst in your mouth with each bite and their Classic Chicken, which is cooked in what I figure is a honey, soy and plum sauce is just excellent.
Tri Dim’s Classic Chicken is excellent
Tri Dim Shanghai Restaurant at 1378 Third Avenue
For dessert, it was time to revisit Bon Vivant Bakery at 231 East 58th Street for dessert (See reviews on TripAdvisor and DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com). I had one of their Rose Petit Fours ($4.00) and it was just excellent. A subtle sweetness with the accent of the rose extract that is used in the filling and the icing. These delightful cakes can be eaten in the two tier bakery and it is fun to watch the world go by.
Bon Vivant at 231 East 58th Street is wonderful for desserts
On my second day of walking the Streets of Midtown East I had just finished a busy day at Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen working in the busy Bread Station and was exhausted by the time I got to East 55th Street. I stopped along the way for a Chicken Empanada at Empanada Supreme (see reviews on TripAdvisor and DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com) at the corner of East 38th Street and Broadway for a quick lunch. This little stand is open only during the week and had the most delicious chicken, beef and cheese empanadas for $2.00! I love his sign with the Caped Empanada.
Empanada Suprema at the corner of West 38th Street & Broadway
Don’t miss admiring the famous Friar’s Club at 57 East 57th Street. This beautiful building was built for Investment Banker Martin Erdman in 1908 by architect Alfredo S.G. Taylor and was designed in the ‘English Renaissance’ style.
The Friar’s Club at 57 East 55th Street
When walking the bottom of East 55th Street from Lexington Avenue, take time again to admire the former AT&T Building at 550 Madison Avenue and IBM Building at 590 Madison Avenue in the distance. These iconic buildings show the resilience and creativity of their corporate owners. They are such interesting designs (see Day One Hundred and Forty Walking the Borders of Midtown East).
Madison Avenue in the 50’s
One of the most interesting little pocket parks in the neighborhood I found when I rounded the corner at East 54th Street. It was right in front of the Christie’s at 535 Madison Avenue is the Christie’s Sculpture Garden with its small tables and chairs, trees covered with white lights and interesting public art. The artist Jonathan Prince is showing his work, “Shattered I, II and III’ in the garden courtyard.
Christie’s Sculpture Garden in front of 535 Madison Avenue with “Shattered Sculptures”
Artist Jonathan Prince is New York born and raised and holds degrees from Columbia University and the University of Southern California. Over the past twenty years, the artist has had a passion for form and material with the use of chaos in his works. His use of steel and CorTen is used in the ‘Shattered’ pieces and they have a reflective element against the white lights of the park (Artist website).
Jonathan Prince in front of his “Shattered Sculptures”
This public garden is one of the nicest I have seen in many blocks and it is nice that Christie’s gives us an opportunity to view Public Art on sale while sitting back on the chairs on a nice day and just admire the park and people passing by.
The Kiton Store at 4 East 54th Street is the former home William Earle Dodge Stokes and his former wife, Rita. Mr. Stokes bought the land and leveled the houses that were there and had architects McKim, Mead and White design the marble mansion in 1896. The couple never lived in the house and filed for divorce soon after. The house was then bought by William H. Moore, the founder of Nabisco and his wife, Ada who movements in New York Society were well known. After Mrs. Moore’s death in 1955, the mansion was used for retail purposes (Daytonia in Manhattan).
The Kiton Store Stokes/Moore House at 4 East 54th Store
The ironic part of the former Stokes/Moore house is that right behind it when rounding the corner to East 54th Street is the Paley Garden, another small public garden with a waterfall as its centerpiece at 3 East 54th Street. The park was designed by architects Zion Breen Richardson Associates and opened in 1967. CBS Head William Paley financed the park in honor of his father, Samuel Paley (Wiki). This pristine little park is also nice to just sit and relax and listen to the waterfall and drown out the sounds of the City. The rest of East 54th Street is lined with large office buildings and the rush of people walking from one block to the next.
Paley Garden at East 53rd Street
Rounding East 53rd Street make an effort to stop inside the lobby of 1 East 53rd Street to see the gallery display from the Studio in the School New York City. The works that line the wall of the lobby space of the building is from art students all over New York City.
The Studio in the School is the largest not for profit visual arts education organization in New York City with the mission to “foster the creative and intellectual development of youth through quality visual arts programs, directed by arts professionals. We also collaborate with and develop the ability of those who provide or support arts programming and creative development for youth both in and outside of schools. We fulfill our mission through two divisions; the New York City Schools Program and the Studio Institute” (Studio in the School mission statement).
The Studio in the School Gallery at East 53rd Street
Walking the rest of East 53rd and then onto East 52nd and East 51st is lined with large office buildings that stretch from one block to the other. Most of this part of the neighborhood was knocked down in the late 1960’s for commercial use.
When walking down East 50th Street there is a small gem of a public pocket park at the south side of East 50th Street between Madison and Park Avenues. Created by the MTA (Metropolitan Transportation Authority in 2014, this little park called the “50th Street Commons” features a water feature ‘waterfall’ that turns colors from blue to green to yellow to fuchsia. This unique little park surrounded by exotic plants is another nice place to just sit and relax (Murray Hill, Gramercy and Midtown East Paper).
The “50th Street Commons” on East 50th Street
Across the street from the park and wedged between office buildings is the restaurant, Maloney & Porcelli, which was founded in 1996 and offers “clubby American cuisine” and harks back to an era when lunch time was taken seriously. It stands in contrast to the ever changing neighborhood.
The restaurant classic, Maloney & Porcelli at 37 East 50th Street
When rounding East 49th Street, stop at Tower 49 at 12 East 49th Street, the home of WeWork to see the art exhibition of artist Enrico Isamu Oyama exhibition “Inside Out”. This exhibition located on all side of the lobby. This contemporary and rather unusual exhibition starts with the pillars on both East 49th and 48th Streets to invite you inside (the security at the building is really cool and nice about people looking around). The Tower 49 Gallery offers exhibitions of art free of charge and is open to the public at street level.
Tower 49 Gallery at 12 East 49th Street
Mr. Oyama’s work is unique at best with a lot of lines and movement. His work “Quick Turn Structure” consists of interlocking intersections of black and white shapes and the unique style replaces letters with lines, highlighting their dynamic motion through the process of repetition that subsequently creates and abstract form with angular points and three-dimensional depth (Artist Press Release).
Tower 49 Gallery
Mr. Oyama is originally from Tokyo and is now based in New York City and likes to creat a visual art in various mediums that features Quick Turn Structure, the motif composed of spontaneous repetition and expansion of free flowing lines influenced by the aerosol writing of the 1970’s-1980’s New York and beyond (Artist Press Release).
Artist Enrico Isamu Oyama
If you are in need of a public bathroom, try the fourth floor of Saks Fifth Avenue in the Men’s Department. When the store is open, this is one of the most convenient places to go to the bathroom in the area.
When proceeding down East 48th Street, take a stop in front of 4 East 48th Street, The Church of Sweden. This Neo-Gothic Church was built in 1921 for “The Bible House” and was sold to the Church in 1978. There is a library and cafe that are inside and open to the public. For the most part, the rest of East 48th Street is filled with large buildings that stretch from side to side.
Church of Sweden at 4 East 48th Street
There is one stand out piece of artwork in the lobby of 280 East 48th Street of four people hunched over in a circle. As hard as I tried though I don’t know who the brilliant artist is of the work.
The lobby sculpture at 280 East 48th Street
Rounding East 47th Street, take a trip back in time to Manhattan of the 1970’s inside of Phil’s Stationary at 9 East 47th Street. I was talking to the gentlemen who were running the store and told them I had not seen inventory like this on sale in a long time. Hard to find things like stationary, note pads, typing paper and ribbon and even recommendations to a place to fix the typewriter. This stationary store harks back to the days when people left the office to go shopping for things needed at the last minute. They still sell pens, pencils and even the old accounting ledger books. The nice part is that it still smells like a stationery store.
Phil’s Stationery at 9 East 47th Street
Most of the Streets between East 47th to East 46th Streets are lined with larger office buildings that stretch from block to block with a smattering of small businesses here and there. One standout at 556 Fifth Avenue at the entrance of East 46th Street is the Philippine Consulate General which services Philippine nationals in the Northeast states. This unique building is one of the last holdovers from the Country buildings that used to line this part of Fifth Avenue in the 1960’s, 70’s and 80’s. The building was designed by Carrere & Hastings in 1912 for the Knoedler and Company Art Gallery.
The Philippine Consulate at 556 Fifth Avenue
On the edge of East 46th Street sits the famous Roosevelt Hotel and the Helmsley Building which sit as the old guards to the neighborhood once known as “Terminal City”. The Helmsley Building at 230 Park Avenue was originally built for the headquarters of the New York Central Building in 1929 by Warren & Wetmore in the Beaux-Arts style. These are also the architects of Grand Central Station behind it that stands guard of the neighborhood from Turtle Bay to Midtown East.
The Helmsley Building at 230 Park Avenue stands guard over this part of Park Avenue
The Roosevelt Hotel at 45 East 46 sits between East 46th and 45th Streets next to Grand Central Terminal. The hotel was designed by architect George C. Post & Son in 1924 and was once part of a series of hotels that made up “Terminal City” that stretched along both sides of Grand Central. The hotel was named for President Teddy Roosevelt and even had a child care service in ‘The Teddy Room’.
The Roosevelt Hotel at 45 East 46th Street
Take time to walk around these impressive buildings and look at the outside stone carvings and elaborate lobbies. The lobby of the Helmsley Building is impressive with its marble floors and impressive chandeliers. On the corner of Fifth Avenue and East 46th Street tucked behind the Barnes & Noble bookstore I had lunch at a new branch of JoJu at 555 Fifth Avenue, which had just opened that afternoon with a soft opening. I had some of their Vietnamese spring rolls ($5.50) which were filled with ground pork and vegetables and were cooked to perfection.
JoJu is a new addition to the Fifth Avenue restaurants at 555 Fifth Avenue
Tucked into the side of the Helmsley Building at the corner of East 45th Street and Vanderbilt Avenue is Urbanspace Vanderbilt, a indoor food court with some of the most hip and innovative local restaurants in New York City. These artisan and chef driven restaurants are outposts of the original neighborhood restaurants including well known names of Roberta’s Pizza and Dough Doughnuts.
Dough at the Urbanspace Vanderbilt
The company Urbanspace has been creating these experiences since 1993 since the company’s establishment in 1972 in Great Britain. Don’t miss the vibrancy of the atmosphere and the smells that waft through the hall at lunch time. I love going to Dough that occasional $4.00 doughnut that is well worth it.
Urbanspace food court in the corner of the Helmsley Building on East 49th Street
The rest of East 45th and 44th Streets are lined with small office buildings and stores and along Madison Avenue the headquarters of Brooks Brothers and Paul Stuart stores that cater to the City professionals and “preppie class”.
Brooks Brothers at 346 Madison Avenue
Midtown East is now mostly a commercial neighborhood lined with office buildings and retail businesses but as you walk the streets here and there things still pop out and amaze you. It really shows the complexity of the City at its best and how a little creativity and renewal can change a space from one use to another.
That shows the imagination of the people who keep making Manhattan a unique experience.
Don’t miss my other walks in MidTown East Manhattan:
Walking the Avenues on Day One Hundred & Forty-Five:
When I finally finished walking Sutton and Beekman Places, I finally decided to take the long walk down Broadway that I had planned for two years. As you can see by the blog, I like to take one neighborhood or section of the City at a time and concentrate on getting to know it. What is the history of the neighborhood? What is there now? Who are the shop keepers and the restaurant owners? What is the neighborhood association doing to improve the area? I like to become part of the neighborhood when I walk around it.
But recently I have noticed people on the Internet have been posting that they walked the entire length of Broadway and bragged about it like they were ‘performing brain surgery’. So I put aside my next walk and decided to see what the fuss was about walking up and down Broadway. I am not sure about everyone else but it was a long trip that took a little over eight hours and I highly recommend the exercise. It was a lot of fun and I felt terrific afterwards. The walk goes by very quickly.
I got to visit neighborhoods that I had not seen in about two to three years. The most striking thing I had discovered especially walking through Harlem and Washington Heights is how many of the old businesses I had either passed or had eaten at had closed. Just like the rest of the City, these areas are going through a lot of change and are being gentrified. It seems like the college campus neighborhoods are leading the way especially around Columbia’s new campus above 125th Street and SUNY between 145th Street to 130th Street. The shifts in neighborhoods are changing very fast and more and more buildings are under scaffolding or being knocked down and replaced.
Since the walk down Broadway from 242nd Street to Bowling Green Park is so extensive, I will not go into the intense detail of historical sites and parks along the way. More detail can be found on my sister sights, VisitingaMuseum.com, DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com and LittleShoponMainStreet@Wordpress.com. On these three sites I will discuss more on each site and a more detailed history. More information on each neighborhood can be found section by section of Manhattan on my blog, MywalkinManhattan.com.
Broadway itself as an Avenue has a very interesting history. Broadway is the English-language literal translation of the Dutch name, ‘Brede-wey’. Broadway was originally the Wickquasgeck Trail that was carved into brush of Manhattan by the Native American inhabitants. ‘Wickquasgeck means “birch-bark country” in Algonquian language. The trail originally snaked through swamps and rocks along the length of Manhattan island (Wiki).
Manhattan in Colonial Times
When the Dutch arrived, the trail became the main road through the island with the colony of Nieuw Amsterdam at the southern tip. The word ‘Brede-wey’ was translated when the British took possession of the island they changed the name to ‘Broadway’. Known in the past as ‘Broadway Street’, ‘Kingsbridge Road’ and ‘Bloomingdale Road’ in parts around the island, it officially became ‘Broadway’ in 1899 when the whole street from the top of Manhattan to the bottom was named for one long road (Wiki).
The entire length of Broadway through Manhattan from Inwood to the Battery is 13 miles and the length in the Bronx is 2 miles. There is an additional 18 miles that runs through Westchester County all the way to Sleepy Hollow, NY where it ends. I just concentrated on the subway route from the 242nd Street Subway exit to the Bowling Green at the tip of Manhattan.
I started my mornings at 5:30am getting up and stretching. The sun shined in my room and that was a good start to the day. The weather was going to be in the high 70’s with a touch of clouds and the weather really cooperated. I got into New York City at 8:15am and started my day with breakfast at my favorite deli in the Garment District, 9th Avenue AM-PM Deli (or Juniors AM-PM Deli as it also known by (See reviews on TripAdvisor and DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com)
What I love about 9th Avenue AM-PM Deli is the generous portions at a very fair price. I started my day with a French Toast platter ($4.99). I had four very nice sized slices of French Toast that were nicely caramelized and just a hint of cinnamon. On my second time on the walk, I ate here again ordering one of their Hungry Man Hero’s ($9.75), which is three eggs, potatoes, ham, bacon and sausage on a soft hero roll with mayo. Ladened with calories yes but taste wise wonderful. It had all the calories and carbs for a 15 mile walk.
It is always nice to grab one of the stools and eat by the window and watch the world go by. Just remember to get here early before all the construction workers from the Hudson Yards come over for their half hour union break. Then it really gets busy.
9th Avenue AM-PM Deli
After breakfast, it was off to Times Square to take the Number One Subway up to 242nd Street-Van Cortland Park stop to start the walk. Manhattan actually starts lower than that but on such a nice day, I thought it would be nice to start at the very top of the subway route. I had not been to the Van Cortlandt House Museum (See VisitingaMuseum.com and TripAdvisor for my reviews) since right after the holidays to see the house decorations and not seen the park ever in the warmer months.
Van Cortlandt House Museum
I got to my destination at 9:00am and had to go to the bathroom. What is nice about Van Cortlandt Park is that the public bathrooms are right near the subway exit and there is another set right next to the Van Cortlandt House Museum so that is covered when you enter the neighborhood. Make sure to take a bathroom break now because the options get slimmer until about 207th Street.
I started my adventure by walking into the park and visiting the museum grounds. Van Cortlandt Park is a beautiful park that was once the Van Cortlandt estate. The last time I had been here was to tour the house for Christmas and to see the decorations. The house is much nicer in the Summer months with the gardens in bloom. The house was closed when I got to the park so I just walked around the grounds to stretch a bit and admire the foliage. It was nice to see the trees with leaves on them and the gardens surrounding the house were in full bloom.
Van Cortlandt Park
Don’t miss when exiting the park to stop and see Memorial Grove, a small section of the park dedicated to 21 servicemen who gave their lives in World War. There are twenty-one oak trees that were planted by the graves which are now fully grown. It is a somber but quiet place to reflect on what these men gave for our country.
Memorial Grove Park inside Van Cortlandt Park
Also, take a peek at the statue of General Josiah Porter, a Civil War hero who is memorialized just outside the entrance to Van Cortlandt Mansion. This elegant statue was created by artist William Clarke Nobel in 1902. General Porter lead the 22nd Regiment of the National Guard of New York during the war (NYCParks.org).
General Josiah Porter in front of the Van Cortlandt Mansion
Once I left the park, I started the walk on the west side of Broadway and the plan was to walk the west side the first day and then the east side the second time so that I could see the buildings along the way and see what restaurants had opened, closed and what looked interesting. Plus where to find public bathrooms along the way. This was the interesting part of the walk was trying to find bathrooms when you needed them.
Since I have visited most of the neighborhoods already from 59th Street up to the tip of Inwood and wrote about historical sites, buildings, gardens and museums that I have visited along the way in other blogs, I won’t be mentioning these in as much detail as you can see them in other entries.
I will refer to the other sites DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com, LittleShoponMainStreet@Wordpress.com, VisitingaMuseum.com and other entries of MywalkinManhattan.com for more details to read on each neighborhood.
Also to make the walk more enjoyable and include all the wonderful places to visit and see along the way, I will be blending both days experiences into one blog so I can make stopping points that visitors should take time to see. Both walks took just over eight hours and please watch the humidity. There was a big difference doing this walk in 70 degree weather versus 85 degree weather with humidity. I needed more liquids in me and more time to sit down. Still it was great exercise and you will never be bored.
Once I left Van Cortlandt Park, it was walking down through the commercial district of the Bronx along the Broadway corridor which is loaded with chain stores and malls of all sorts. So much for people saying the Bronx is dead. There was so much shopping going on that you never had to leave for the suburbs to find a chain store.
At each subway stop station I did notice clusters of small family run businesses and here you can find some interesting restaurants and pizzerias. There are a lot of family run bakeries as well but none that stood out.
When you reach the edge of Marble Hill (the Northern most part of Manhattan), you will pass the Marble Hill Houses. I had more whistles and yells when I passed the projects on my second trip on the neighborhood. I am not sure what about me screams cop. Even so as I walked in the front walks of the houses I noticed that the residents were growing gardens that were part of the ‘Outer Seed Project’, a program of growing crops on the projects lawns. I thought it will be interesting when everything gets harvested.
It was when you will cross the bridge at 225th Street in the Bronx to the tip of Manhattan in Inwood is where it all starts to change as you enter the northern Columbia University campus and pass the football stadium.
The Columbia University ‘C’ when you exit Marble Hill and go over the bridge to the Island of Manhattan
The interesting part of this part of Inwood is that on tip of Manhattan is nothing at the end of it. Here we have bus stations, garage trucks and delivery vans. This is one of the most commercial parts of Manhattan I have ever seen outside parts of the Garment District. The area has been rezoned so there will be a lot more changes up here in the future. Once you cross the bridge from the Bronx, you feel the difference in the neighborhoods depending on what side of Broadway you are on.
Crossing the bridge means that you have entered Columbia University territory and to the right is Columbia Stadium which is pretty much shut down this time of year. There were some football players in the field but the Ivy League season starts later so it was not that busy. On my second trip down the east side of Broadway, I made two pit stops in Inwood past the stadium that I think tourists and residents alike should see.
The first is Muscato Marsh at 575 West 218th Street (See review on VisitingaMuseum.com)right behind Columbia Stadium that faces the shores of Marble Hill. This interesting marsh is one of the few in the City and one of the only ones in Manhattan that I know of and it is a great place to just sit and relax.
The Muscato Marsh is right next to the Columbia Boathouse where their rowing team set their boats off and right next to the Columbia Football stadium. On a sunny morning or afternoon it is a nice place to just sit back and watch the boaters and people on jet ski’s zoom by. It is nice to just sit by the flowers and relax.
If you want to walk a little further into Inwood Park, visit the Shorakkopoch Rock the place where it has been said that Peter Minuet had bought the island of Manhattan from the Native Americans. This is where a three hundred year old tulip tree had once stood and legend stated that the event had taken place under a tulip tree in clearing on the island. No one is too sure if this is the right place but to really understand the history of Manhattan. this is the spot where to begin.
Shorakkopoch Rock the site of the purchase of Manhattan Island by Peter Minuet
On the way of exploring Broadway, I followed the path of artwork by artist Nicolas Holiber and his bird sculptures that lined Broadway similar to the art by Joy Brown and Bernadette Myers. So traveling from 165th Street to 59th Street searching for bird artwork.
As I left Inwood Park, I watched as kids participating in Summer camps were playing games and running around. Parts of the park were closed to reseeding so you can see that money was being put into the park and renovations were starting.
As I walked down Broadway the few times I have visited the area since my initial walk in 2015, I have noticed so many businesses open and close which is almost a epidemic all over Manhattan. Broadway for almost the entire length is no different. I had recently read an article about Borough President Gale Brewer walking the length of Broadway in Manhattan and saying that about 200 store fronts were empty. This is not good and is showing what is going on not just in the economy but how the landlords are beginning to gouge small businesses with rent increases. So many small Dominican businesses I have watched close to be replaced by Hipster restaurants who are also not making it with these rent increases.
Still there are many businesses that are thriving along the Broadway corridor and a lot of great restaurants to stop and visit along the way. Even after a big breakfast, I needed to take snack breaks along the way and the restaurants in the Washington Heights area are reasonable and have great travel food.
My first stop after visiting the Muscato Marsh was Twin Donut at 5099 Broadway for a donut and a bathroom break. You will need to know which public bathrooms are good along the way and for the price of a donut is was well worth the visit. Their donuts are around a $1.75 depending on the type but go for one of their jelly or custard filled. They are really good. This is one of the first places I visit during the Cornell/Columbia Football games.
As you are traveling down Broadway, take some time to walk the side streets into the heart of ‘Little Dominica’, Inwood’s Dominican community of stores, restaurants and bakeries. The first stop should be walking down 207th Street to the subway stop on 10th Avenue. While the street is full of all sorts of restaurants, stop at the street vendors for fresh juice and pastilitos, the Dominican version of the empanadas. These usually run about $1.00. There are all sorts of street vendors selling their wares along the sidewalks. On my second trip down I stopped at a vendor for fresh chicken pastilitos and there is nothing like them when they are just out of the fryer.
As I travelled through Inwood, I stopped at the Dyckman Family Farmhouse (See reviews on TripAdvisor and VisitingaMuseum.com), which is the oldest home on the Island of Manhattan. The Dyckman Farmhouse was built in 1785 and was once part of a 250 acre that stretched to the tip of Inwood. The house now sits on a bluff overlooking Broadway and Washington Heights on about an acre of land. The house is still impressive to walk through and when you have time, take the formal walking tour of the home and hear about the history of how the farm worked and about the Dyckman family.
The Dyckman Family Farmhouse at 4881 Broadway
As you pass the Dyckman House and walk south also take a side trip down Dyckman Avenue to visit more Dominican restaurants, bakeries and stores from Broadway to Nagle Avenue. There are some interesting places to have a snack but again check out the street vendors first especially on the weekends when the weather is nice. More people are out walking around.
When you cross Dyckman Street, Ann Loftus Playground at 4746 Broadway (named after a local community leader) will be to the right and there are nice public bathrooms and water fountains here. There are also benches under shade trees to sit under and on a warm day, their are vendors selling Dominican ices for $1.00. Go for the mango/cherry or the rainbow. On a hot day, they are very refreshing.
Ann Loftus Playground
Ann Loftus Playground is part of the extensive Fort Tyron Park that runs from Riverside Drive to Broadway from Dyckman Street to 190th Street. If you want to take a walk through the park, not only are there beautiful views of the Hudson River along the stone paths but it leads up to The Cloisters Museum at 99 Margaret Corbin Drive which is part of the Metropolitan Museum of Art that features Medieval Art including the ‘Hunt of the Unicorn’ tapestries.
The Cloisters and Fort Tyron Park
The park also has many colorful flower gardens and paths along the river with amazing views. There is a lot of walking up and down hills in Fort Tyron Park but trust me the views are breathtaking and the paths lead to amazing gardens and lawns. There are also nice public bathrooms to stop at here.
As you leave the park and continue walking down Broadway, you will be in the heart of Washington Heights so on a warm day expect to see people sitting on the benches socializing, playing checkers and dominos and listening to music. There is a lot of life on these sidewalks.
As you pass Fort Tyron Park, take a peak at the street art work inside the 190th Street Station and take some time to walk the corridor. It is its own museum in constant change and the street taggers do some interesting work.
The subway station at 190th Street
When walking into the streets between 187th and 160th, there are some wonderful Spanish restaurants catering mostly to Dominican families but the menus are extensive and the prices are reasonable. There are a lot of restaurants especially clustered around the George Washington Bridge Depot. Two standouts that I highly recommend are La Dinastia at 4059 Broadway for Dominican Chinese food and 5 Star Estrella Bakery at 3861 Broadway for pastries, pastilitos and all sorts of hot snacks.
The restaurant row around 181st Street
La Dinastia has a reasonable lunch menu and I recommend having the Chicken Cracklings, a type of batter fried chicken patty with their Special Fried Rice which contains shrimp, sausage, eggs and vegetables (See review on TripAdvisor). A lunch special here can run about $12.00 with a Coke and tip and you will be full for the rest of the afternoon.
La Dinastia Chicken Cracklings and Special Fried Rice
Before you leave this area, check out the former Coliseum Cinema on the corner of Broadway and 181st Street before they tear it down. It was built in 1920 as an old vaudeville theater and famous actors including the Marx Brothers and Harold Lloyd performed there. The building is slated for demolition due to its structure concerns and will be replaced by housing and a retail mall.
The Coliseum Theater at 181st & Broadway has interesting detail work
There is a small park across from the Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center, Mitchell Square, at the corners of Broadway and St. Nichols Avenue at 168th Street, that features the Washington Heights-Inwood War Memorial by artist Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney. It was dedicated in 1922 for members of the community who fought in WWI. I found it very touching. It features two soldiers assisting another wounded one.
Washington Heights-Inwood War Memorial by artist Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney
Also check out some of the Dominican bakeries in the area. 5 Star Estrella Bakery is near the corner of 161st Street and Broadway. Everything at the bakery is delicious and I have never had one bad thing to eat here (See reviews on DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com and TripAdvisor).
Their chicken and beef pastilitos are cooked perfectly and stuff full of filling ($1,50), their doughnuts are light and slathered in thick icing ($1.00) and their cinnamon buns ($2.00) are the best. They are light, chewy and sugary. Another item that stands out is a type of potato croquette that is filled with meat ($1.50). If they are available, grab one. Totally delicious!
5 Star Estrella Bakery
As you reach the small pocket park at 157th Street, you will come across the first piece of Broadway Art by artist Nicolas Holiber for his “Birds on Broadway” Audubon Sculpture Project exhibit which is a partnership he has with Broadway Mall Association, NYC Parks, NYC Audubon and the Gitler Gallery. These interesting sculptures bring attention to birds species that are endangered by climate change. These birds are either native to New York or do a fly by when in season. They are made of 100% reclaimed or recycled wood (Nicolas Holiber website).
The Wood Duck by artist Nicolas Holiber
The first sculpture on the walk that I saw was the Wood Duck. It was an interesting piece that unfortunately was being walked on by a couple of kids that did not seem to know the significance of the work. These rustic pieces really do stand out though and I like the write ups with each one which gives a short story on each bird.
As you pass the sculpture and continue south to the right is the Audubon Terrace at 155th Street and Broadway, which is home to Boricua College, the Hispanic Society of America Museum (See reviews on TripAdvisor and VisitingaMuseum.com) which is currently closed for renovation and the American Academy of Arts & Letters (See review on TripAdvisor and VisitingaMuseum.com) which just recently closed and is only open twice a year to exhibitions. Both museums are only open at select times of the year so you have to visit their websites for more information.
The American Academy of Arts & Letters
The college abuts the Trinity Church Cemetery that holds the graves of many prominent New Yorkers including John Jacob Astor IV and Mayor Ed Koch. It is interesting to walk along the paths of the cemetery during the day and look at the historic tombstones. When visiting the grave of Mayor Koch, be prepared to find lots of stones along the gravesite as a sign of respect for the dead.
Ed Koch gravesite
As you pass the borders of 155th Street into Harlem there is a distinct change in the street life. It is a lot quieter when you reach the borders of Washington Heights and Harlem. There are less people on the sidewalks here. In Washington Heights, there is music on the side walks, families playing games and men debating issues. It is a lot quieter I noticed when you cross the 155th Street border between the neighborhoods.
There is also a difference in the types of restaurants and shopping as slowly CUNY is starting to spread its wings and more businesses catering to students and faculty are opening in this area.
The next stop was to see Nicolas Holiber’s Snowy Owl at 148th Street. This was one of the more whimsical pieces in the exhibit and was unique with its outlaying wings.
The Snowy Owl by artist Nicolas Holiber at 148th Street
My next stop for a snack was at Olga’s Pizza at 3409 Broadway (See review on TripAdvisor). Olga’s I had just stumbled across as I had a craving for a slice and the pizza is delicious. The secret to a good pizza is a fresh tasting and well spiced sauce and Olga’s hits both marks on this. It is a little pricey at $2.50 a slice but she is catering to the CUNY students who venture from campus to the restaurants on Broadway for meals. I got to meet Olga herself in the pizzeria who was working alongside of her parents and she seemed please that I liked her pizza so much.
To the right of Olga’s just down the block is Montefiore Park, which is always a nice place to take a break and sit down to rest under the trees. It is a real mixture of neighborhood families, college students and teenagers who are eating at the local McDonalds or one of the food trucks that line the park in the warmer months. Just north of the park at 139th Street is the third sculpture in the Nicolas Holiber exhibit, the Hooded Merganser.
The Hooded Merganser by artist Nicolas Holiber at 136th Street
One surprising thing I found at the corner of Broadway and 135th Street was a Pediatric office that housed in the front of it the Martinez Gallery at 3332 Broadway. The gallery features in the front waiting room an array of street art. This was interesting for a doctor’s office.
The Martinez Gallery at 3332 Broadway
The inside artwork at the Martinez Gallery. Very unassuming doctor’s office
Once you pass 135th Street, you enter the new extension of the Columbia University campus and because of the growth of the campus to this section of Harlem especially around the 125th Street corridor, it is changing fast. I have never seen so many new restaurants and shops going up right across the street from the Manhattanville Housing Projects. It is becoming a real extreme in this part of the neighborhood.
Columbia University’s new Manhattanville campus that stretches from 125th to 130th Streets
Once you cross 125th Street on this part of Broadway, you enter Morningside Heights and the home of Columbia University. This part of 125th Street and Broadway has really changed since I started the walk of the island. There is a more established ‘Restaurant Row” that stretches from 125th Street to 122nd Street on Broadway that contains such restaurants as LaSalle Dumplings at 3141 Broadway and Bettolona at 3143 Broadway that I have tried in previous entries on this blog and check them out on my blog on Morningside Park. They are both excellent and I highly recommend them.
As soon I arrived on the Columbia University campus at 125th Street the mood of Broadway changed again from the streets of Harlem to a collegiate atmosphere. Don’t miss a break at the Columbia University commons around 116th Street. It is a lot of fun when school is in session and even during these quiet times of the summer, there still is a lot of energy here. It is a nice place to gather your thoughts and relax.
What is also nice is all the food trucks outside the commons that cater to the Asian students. You can get fresh dumplings, pork pancakes, noodle dishes and fresh soups for very reasonable prices and you can relax in the commons on a nice day and enjoy your lunch.
Right next to the campus on East 117th street is the third in Nicolas Holiber’s sculptures, the Common Golden Eye. This is one of the nicer locations for the work as there is plenty of seating in much less congested area of Broadway. You can sit back and just admire the work.
The Common Goldeneye by artist Nicolas Holiber at 117th Street
After taking a break in the commons and watching the summer students reading and chatting amongst themselves or so involved in their cell phones that they would not look up at a zombie attack, I headed back to Broadway to cross into the Upper West Side. It is amazing how everything between 125th and 110th have changed over the past few months and even from 110th to 100th Streets the changes have been constant in a twenty year period.
When you need to take a break from the heat, Straus Park which is between 107th and 106th Streets. This shady and well landscaped little pocket park was name after Isidor and Ida Straus who were once the owners of Macy’s and died in the Titanic sinking. There is a beautiful memorial to them in the park. Friends of the Park maintain it with the city so it is always beautifully planted.
Straus Park at 107th Street
Look close or you will miss it is the ‘Art for Art Sake’ dedication to Duke Ellington on the Broadway Island on West 106th Street. The work is done in tiles and you have to look down to see the work as it on the bottom park of the cement island facing the bench. I guess most people miss this interesting piece of street art.
One of my favorite bakeries in Manhattan is located right near the park at West 105th Street and Broadway, Silver Moon Bakery at 2740 Broadway (See review on TripAdvisor ande DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com). I love coming here for all the creative pastries and buns that the bakery created and I have the most delicious blueberry danish ($3.50) and cinnamon bun ($3.25) for a snack. Don’t be shy in this bakery and try several items. Everything I have ever ate there was wonderful.
Silver Moon Bakery at 2740 Broadway
When I got to 103rd Street, I saw the next part of the Birds on Broadway exhibit with the Double Crested Cormorant that stood proud on the Broadway island looking over the neighborhood.
The Double crested Cormorant by artist Nicolas Holiber at 103rd Street
Another little pizzeria that you might miss is Cheesy Pizza at 2640 Broadway (See reviews on TripAdvisor and DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com). The food is really reasonable and their personal pizza ($5.00) and pizza special (Two slices and a Coke for $5.00) are a real steal and their sauce is delicious and so well spiced.
Cheesy Pizza at 2640 Broadway
When you finally cross over past West 100th Street, you enter the Upper West Side which has been extensively traveled on this blog. There are dozens of shops and restaurants that line Broadway on this stretch of Broadway and sadly a lot of empty store fronts. This seems to be an epidemic all over the City with landlords jacking up rents every month. It really is changing this stretch of Broadway. At West 96th Street and Broadway is the next “Birds on Broadway” piece, the “Brant Goose”.
The Brant Goose at West 96th Street
When walking on Broadway in the West 80’s, don’t miss walking through Zabar’s at 2245 Broadway near 80th Street. It is fun to wander around the store and smell the aromas of cheese, olives, freshly baked breads and chocolate. Don’t miss their cafe at the corner of West 80th Street (See my reviews on TripAdvisor and DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com). There is a nice assortment of pastries and soups at a reasonable price and on certain days they have specials that are reasonably price. They have the most delicious pastries and pan pizza.
Zabar’s Cafe is the original place where Zabar’s started
You will also see the next sculpture by Nicolas Holiber at West 79th Street, the “American Brittern”, which stands majestically on Broadway.
“The American Brittern” by artist Nicolas Holiber at West 79th Street
Still when you reach the West 70’s there are many beautiful apartment buildings that I admired that were built at the turn of the last century when builders were trying to woo the wealthy in the late 1890’s to the early 1900’s. The area itself is going through building boom and is changing all the time. At West 79th Street, look to the Broadway island again to see Nicolas Holiber’s “Scarlett Tanager” sculpture. These playful little birds are fun to look at.
The Scarlet Tanager by artist Nicolas Holiber at West 86th Street
Broadway has a series of churches that are really beautiful in design and in the details like the stone work and the stained glass windows. One church that stands out is the First Baptist Church 265 West 79th Street. It was built between 1890-93 and was designed by architect George M. Keister. The large window facing Broadway depicts Christ as the center of the New Testament Church (Wiki).
First Baptist Church on West 79th Street
Some of the apartment buildings are quite spectacular. The Apthorp Apartments at 390 West End Avenue (that stretches back to Broadway) is one of the most beautiful enclosed buildings with an elegant courtyard in the center. This building was built in 1908 and is the largest type of apartment of its kind in New York City. If you can take a peek inside the gates it is worth it.
The Apthorp Apartments
The Ansonia Apartments at 2109 Broadway is one of the biggest and grandest of the Victorian age apartment buildings on the Upper West Side. Built between 1899 and 1904 the outside of the building is studded with beautiful stone work, interesting torrents and a Mansard roof. Take time to walk around the building and admire the stonework.
The Ansonia Apartments at 2109 Broadway
Another building that stands out in the neighborhood is the Doriltan Apartments at 171 West 71st Street that was built in 1902. This elegant building is in the Beaux-Arts style and is another building that sets the tone for this part of the neighborhood.
The Doriltan Apartments at 171 West 71st Street
This is where the Upper West Side has changed so much. This area has become so expensive and the once notorious “Needle Park” Sherman Square is now a nicely landscaped park with a coffee vendor and young mothers with strollers. It is amazing how the City just keeps changing itself.
Sherman Square; the once “Needle Park”
Right by the subway stop at West 72nd Street is the next sculpture the “Peregrine Falcon”.
“The Peregrine Falcon” at West 72nd Street
Once you pass the borders of West 72nd Street, you will begin to see the magic of former Parks Director and major City Planner, Robert Moses. In the mid-1960’s, the City decided the area was dilapidated and pretty much leveled the neighborhood to build the Lincoln Center complex and branches of the local colleges so you will see more modern architecture on the western side of Broadway.
By the time you get to West 67th Street, you will see Julliard School, some of the buildings in the Lincoln Center complex and then Lincoln Center itself between West 65th and West 62nd Streets. On a theater night, the complex is so full energy and it is always a nice trip to see the ballet, opera or the philharmonic. The groundbreaking for this complex was in 1959 with President Eisenhower present and the complex was developed between 1962 and 1966 with current renovations still occuring in 2005. Take time to walk the courtyard and admire the fountains and the artwork that are around the buildings.
Lincoln Center at night
While passing Lincoln Center, you will see Dante Park across the street and the stately Empire Hotel. Here in Dante Park which is named after the Italian Poet, Dante Alighieri. This beautiful little pocket park sits across from Lincoln Center and has been a place to relax on my walks down Broadway. This is also the location of the last sculpture on the “Birds on Broadway” tour, the “Red Necked Grebe with Chicks”. This whimsical piece shows the mother grebe with her little ones on her back.
The Red Necked Grebe with Chicks by artist Nicolas Holiber at West 64th Street
As you head down Broadway, you will reach the Time Warner Building with its upscale shops and restaurants and Columbus Circle with its impressive statue of Christopher Columbus and the soaring fountains that surround it. This is one of the best places in Manhattan to just sit back and relax and people watch. The statue was recently part of a controversy on statues of specific people and history and happily that seems to have gone away for now.
Columbus Circle at West 59th Street
As you pass Columbus Circle and enter into Midtown Manhattan, notice to the south the Museum of Art & Design at 2 Columbus Circle. This innovative little museum has the top floors of the building has a interesting exhibition of “Punk Rock” art and music going on right now. (See my write up on it on VisitingaMuseum.com.)
Museum of Arts & Design
Punk Rock Exhibition
The crowds get larger the closer you come to the 42nd Street Mall. This part of Broadway near the TKTS for Broadway shows becomes crowded as these four blocks of Times Square is now an open air mall with seating and loads of costume characters who beg for pictures and money with tourists. It has gotten really crowded and annoying and the quicker you get through it the better. This is where the Ball drops on New Year’s Eve and you can see it up above the One Times Square building. Still get through Times Square, especially on a Saturday or Sunday as quick as possible.
Times Square by the TKTS booth and the Marriott Marquis to the right
The one thing that is important to know is that the bathrooms at the Marriott Marquis at 1535 Broadway are free and it is a good pit stop before heading further downtown. They are located on the Eighth floor and are clean and very nice. They also have some good restaurants in the hotel like the Broadway Bar (See review on TripAdvisor) to eat at but wait until you head further downtown.
As you head down past Times Square you will notice that not much has changed on this part of Broadway. Most of the buildings are pre-war and been around since the 30’s and 40’s. Here and there new buildings have creeped in. Stop in the lobby at 1441 Broadway, the Bricken Textile Building that was built in 1930 to see the “Nurturing Independence Through Artistic Development” art exhibition. It is quite creative. The whole lobby was full of modern art. There was a very interesting piece by artist Daniel Rozin who created a ‘Software Mirror’ where when you looked into it, it then looked back at you.
Artist Daniel Rozin demonstrating how the piece works
After wondering through the art show, I stopped in Frankie Boys Pizza at 1367 Broadway for a slice and a Coke and just relaxed. I was starved by this point of the walk. Their pizza is very good (See review on TripAdvisor) and was crowded that afternoon with people having an late lunch.
After I finished my lunch, I continued the walk to Herald Square the home of Macy’s at 151 West 34th Street, whose store still dominates the area and is one of the last decent department stores in New York City. It is fun to take a quick pit stop in the store to see the main lobby and there is another public bathroom both on the lower level and on the Fourth Floor.
Macy’s Broadway entrance
Once you leave Herald Square and walk south you will be entering what is left of the old Wholesale district where once buyers used to come into these stores to commercially buy goods for their businesses. Slowly all of these businesses as well as most of the Flower District is being gentrified out with new hotels, restaurants and bars replacing the businesses. It seems that most of the district is being rebuilt or renovated.
I got down to Worth Square by Madison Square Park in the early evening and admired the William Jenkins Worth monument. General Worth was a military hero during the War of 1812 and the Mexican-American War. The monument was designed by James Goodwin Batterson and when General Worth died in 1849, his remains were buried under the monument. It was interesting to read that at the percussion for his funeral that 6500 military men were at the ceremony (Wiki).
The General William Jenkins Worth Monument
As you look down further on the square, you will see the Flatiron Building one of the most famous and most photographed buildings in New York City. The building was designed by Daniel Burnham as a Renaissance Palazzo with Beaux-Arts styling . The original name for the building was the “Fuller Building” for the Company. The name “Flatiron” comes from a cast iron clothes iron from the turn of the last century. (Wiki)
The ‘Flatiron’ Building at 175 Fifth Avenue at 23rd Street
As you pass the Flatiron Building and continue the walk south between 23rd and 14th Streets, take a look up to admire the buildings that once help make up the “Ladies Mile”, once the most fashionable shopping neighborhood after the Civil War (See my blog in MywalkinManhattan.com “Walking the Ladies Shopping Mile”).
One of the most elegant buildings on this part of Broadway is the former “Lord & Taylor” building at 901 Broadway. The building was constructed for the department store in 1870 and was the main store until 1914. It is now the Brooks Brothers Red Fleece store. Really take time to look at the detail work of the store and step inside. The Mansard Roof is an amazing touch.
901 Broadway “Lord & Taylor” building from 1870-1914
Finally reaching Union Square at Broadway and 14th Street, I was able to relax on a bench under a shade tree. I stopped at the Farmers Market, that is there every Wednesday and Saturday, and pick up some fruit and a couple of cookies from one of the stands. This is a lot of fun in the warmer months and don’t miss it September and October when the produce really comes in.
Busy Union Square
As you leave Union Square and head south again, you will be entering the campus of New York University and all over you can see classrooms, stores and restaurants that cater to the students. Sometimes I think these kids are trying so hard to look cool it becomes outlandish. The way some of them dress is over the top.
At the bend on Broadway, another church stands out in the neighborhood. Grace Episcopal Church at 802 Broadway on the corner of Broadway and East 10th Street sits at a bend in Broadway and makes an impressive statement in the neighborhood. The church was designed by architect James Renwick Jr. in the French Gothic Revival style and started construction in 1843 (Wiki).
Walking south, stop in front of both 770 Broadway between 8th and 9th Street, the former home of John Wanamaker Department Store and 693 Broadway at 4th Street, the Merchants Building. These two buildings stand out for their beauty and design.
770 Broadway was built between 1903 and 1907 by architect Daniel Burham as the annex for the main store of Wanamaker’s which was next door. There was a skyway that once connected the two stores. The company closed for business in 1954. (Wiki)
770 Broadway, the former Wanamaker’s Department Store Annex
Stop at 693 Broadway to admire the design of the building. Built in 1908 by architect William C. Frohne the building is studded with interesting stone carvings and ornamentation. What really stands out is all the owls that decorate the building (Greenwich Village Preservation).
693 Broadway The Merchants Building
The owls that line 693 Broadway
Looking up at the scaffolding of 611 Broadway, The Cable Building, it is not hard to miss the detail work of this graceful building. The stone work like a lot of the buildings on lower Broadway has beautiful detailed stonework adorning it. The building was designed by architect Stanford White of McKim, Meed & White and was designed in the Beau-Arts design of “American Renaissance”. The building was once home to the Metropolitan Traction Company, one of New York’s big Cable Car companies. In the last twenty years it has been home to the Angelika Film Company and Crate & Barrel home store. (Wiki)
Above all the scaffolding, look at the stone detail work of 611 Broadway
Take some time to admire 366 Broadway, a former Textiles Building built in 1909. Designed by Fredrick C. Browne, the building was designed in Edwardian commercial architecture and look at the detail work of the pillars, stone carved faces and other decorative stonework. The building once housed the Royal Typewriter Company then moved on in its later life to house textile firms including Bernard Semel Inc. (where the signage comes from on the outside), who was a former clothing jobber. Now called The Collect Pond House is a coop in Tribeca neighborhood (Tribeca History News)
The Woolworth Building at 233 Broadway is one of the most famous buildings on Broadway. The former headquarters for F. W. Woolworth & Company was once the tallest building in the world when it was constructed in 1913 and stayed the tallest building until 1930 when the Chrysler Building was finished on Lexington Avenue in 1930. The building was designed by architect Cass Gilbert in the neo-Gothic style and was a representation of the time as a “Cathedral for Commerce”. The lower floors are clad in limestone and the upper floors in glazed terra-cotta panels (Wiki). The lobby is one of the most detailed and ornate in New York but ask security first if you can walk around.
The Woolworth Building at 233 Broadway
Across the street from the Woolworth Building is the very popular City Hall Park home to the to the 1803 built City Hall (Tweed Hall) and the seat of government for the City of New York. The park has always been used as some form of political function since the beginning in the Colonial days as a rebel outpost to its current function. It has had a prison, public execution site and parade ground on the site. Since the renovation in 1999 under then Mayor Rudy Giuliani, the park has been a place for people downtown to gather and relax by its fountain and beside the beautifully designed gardens. There are about a dozen statues in the park to admire so take time to enjoy a walk in the park (NYCParks.org).
The City Hall Park
Another historic church that played a big role in the recovery of the World Trade Center events of 9/11 is the St. Paul’s Chapel of Trinity Church at 209 Broadway. The Church was built in 1766 and is the oldest surviving church in Manhattan and is designed in the late Georgian church architecture by architect Thomas Mc Bean and crafted by Andrew Gautier (Wiki).
St. Paul’s Church
George Washington worshipped here on his Inauguration day in 1789 and continued to worship here when New York City was the capital of the country. The church had been spared by a sycamore tree on the property that absorbed the debris from the World Trade Center site and became a place of recovery and reflection in the aftermath of the events on 9/11 (Wiki).
Another building to admire is 108 Broadway at Leonard Street. This beautiful Italian Renaissance Revival building was designed by McKim Mead & White and has been refitted for apartments.
108 Broadway at Leonard Street
Upon reaching Zuccotti Park which is right near the World Trade Center sight and the home of the “Occupy Wall Street” movement that traveled around the world after the 2008 meltdown of the New York Stock Market. The movement and occupation of the park which is private property, began in September of 2011. The park which is owned by Brookfield Office Properties was named after the Chairman of the company, John Zuccotti in 2011. (Wiki)
Zuccotti Park at twilight at Broadway and Cedar Streets
Zuccotti Park during its days of “Occupy Wall Street”
Take time to admire “Joie de Vivre” by artist Marco Polo ‘Marc’ di Suvero, and Italian now American artist. This interesting sculpture was installed in the park in 2006 and features “four open-ended tetrahedrons”. (Wiki)
“Joie de Vivre” by artist Marc di Suvero
As you pass Zuccotti Park and head down the last stretch of Broadway look around at the buildings on both sides of Broadway as they have not changed much since the early 1900’s.
The last historic church I have visited and have walked past many times when in the neighborhood is Trinity Church, an Episcopal church at 75 Broadway. The first church on the site was built in 1698 and burned during the Revolutionary War during the Great Fire of 1776 when a two thirds of the City burned after a fire started in tavern and left most of New Yorkers homeless (Wiki).
The current church was built in 1839 and finished in 1846 and was built in the Gothic Revival design by architect Richard Upjohn. It was the tallest building in the United States until 1869. The church has played important roles in recent history as a place of refuge and prayer during the attacks on 9/11. It also was part of the Occupy Wall Street movement in 2012 as a place of refuge and support to the protestors (Wiki and Church History).
One of the most elegant buildings in lower Manhattan is the Cunard Building, the former home of the Cunard Shipping line. The building was designed by architect Benjamin Wistar Morris and opened in 1921. The company sold the building in 1971 and has different tennents now.
The Cunard Building
I finally got to my designation of Bowling Green Park on the first trip down Broadway at 5:45pm (starting time again 9:00am) just in time to see all the tourist lined up by The Bull statue (see my review on VisitingaMuseum.com). The statue was designed by artist Arturo de Modica and was installed as ‘renegade art’ meaning he did not have permission from the City to place it there. It has been a big tourist attraction since its installation and I could not see a reason for the City to move it from its location. At 7,100 pounds they can move it too far.
The Charging Bull at Bowling Green Park by artist Arturo de Modica
I reached the end of Broadway at 5:45pm and relaxed in Bowling Green Park (See review on VisitingaMuseum.com) for about a half hour. It was so nice to just sit there watching the fountain spray water and watching the birds as they pecked around.
Bowling Green has a rich history as a park. It was designed in 1733 and is the oldest park in New York City. It was here that the first reading of the Declaration of Independence was read and then the toppling of the Statue of King George III in defiance. You can still see where the citizens at the time cut off the small crowns on the fencing that surrounds the park. This is another place that was rumored to be the site of where the Dutch bought Manhattan. The park is the official start of Broadway.
Bowling Green Park at the height of its beauty
I walked from the Bowling Green Park and sat by the harbor in Battery Green Park and watched the ships go by. It is a nice place to relax and watch the sun set and the lights go on in all the buildings in lower Manhattan and watch the Statue of Liberty illuminate. It is quite a site. Look at the lights of Jersey City and Governors Island.
For dinner that night, I walked from the Battery into Chinatown and went to Chi Dumpling House (See reviews on TripAdvisor and DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com) at 77 Chrystie Street in Chinatown. They have the most amazing menu that is so reasonable. Ten steamed dumplings for $3.00 and a bowl of Hot & Sour Soup for $1.50.
Chi Dumpling House at 77 Chrystie Street
For dessert that evening I came across Gooey on the Inside at 163 Chrystie Street (See review on TripAdvisor) for the most soft and gooey homemade cookies. I saw a bunch of people smiling as they left this basement business raving about the cookies and I had to investigate. I have to admit that they are pricey ($5.00 and higher) but the cookies are amazing. The Chocolate Chunk was loaded with large pieces of chocolate and the Birthday Cake is filled with icing and is soft and chewy. The best way to end the evening.
Gooey on the Inside Birthday Cake Cookies
On my second day of walking down Broadway, I stopped at Pranzo Pizza at 34 Water Street (See reviews on TripAdvisor and DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com) for dinner. I had arrived later in the evening and did not realize they closed at 8:00pm. The food which is normally excellent, had been sitting for awhile and was not that good. I had a chicken parmesan and spaghetti special that was dried out. Not their best work.
Pranzo Pizza at 34 Water Street
After dinner, I returned to Battery Park to admire the lights on Governor’s Island and the illuminated Statue of Liberty. There is nothing like this site in the world and only off the. Island of Manhattan can you see it this way.
The Broadway Mall Art Exhibition:
The Birds of Broadway by artist Nicolas Holiber:
Artist Nicolas Holiber in front of his sculptures for the “Birds on Broadway” show
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’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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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).
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.
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’ 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.
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.
The grates today that I walked on top of and did not know.
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.
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).
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 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 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.
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.
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).
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).
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).
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’ 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 Kobra, 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.
The 9/11 Tribute to Fallen Fire Fighters by Eduardo Kobra on the East 49th Street side of the building
On the other side of the building is another mural by Mr. Kobra “Genius is to Bike Ride”, which is a commentary of the new bike lanes in New York City. Mr. Kobra 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).
“Genius is to Bike Ride” by Eduardo Kobra 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. Kobra 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’.
225-227 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.
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, 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.
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.
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 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 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
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 by Cenz
When walking in the other direction on East 44th Street I saw the painting by artist Faith XLVII , “Gender Equality”.
‘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 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.
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).
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
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.
I can’t believe it is my forth anniversary of my blog, “MywalkinManhattan.com”. What started out as just a simple walk through the entire Island of Manhattan has morphed into visits to the outer boroughs and to outside the City. There is countless restaurant reviews, museum visits, visits to parks and historical parks and window shopping in stores all around the Tri-State area.
These additional views of the City have inspired the extension blogs to this site, “VisitingaMuseum.com”, “LittleShoponMainStreet@Wordpress.com” and “DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com” to showcase more wonderful things to do, places to see and places to eat in New York City. What started out as a small site has now morphed into a blog that explores all the wonderful things to do and see in neighborhoods all over the City.
The best part of this experience is that I thank all the input that my students have given me on the sites and all the comments that have made it more enjoyable to the reader from adding in TripAdvisor reviews to contributing pictures and videos of the areas discussed. I want to thank them for their ideas and suggestions.
Today I entered the Turtle Bay neighborhood which is located next to Sutton and Beekman Place in the neighborhood that surrounds the United Nations located next to the East River. Over the last twenty years the borders of the neighborhood have become blurred with Midtown with much of Second, Third and Lexington Avenues giving way to large apartment and office complexes. There are still pockets of brownstones with local businesses dotted on the Avenues and side streets but they are becoming few and far between.
Turtle Bay has an interesting history as part of Manhattan. ‘Turtle Bay’ was originally a cove in the East River that was shaped like a knife which the Dutch gave the name “deutal” for knife. The cove was filled in after the Civil War. The neighborhood was originally a forty acre farm named “Turtle Bay Farm” that extended from what is now East 43rd to East 48th Street and from Third Avenue to the East River. When the street grid system was put into place after the Civil War, the hilly cove and surrounding areas was graded and filled in and subdivided for development (Wiki).
Turtle Bay in the early 1800’s
The neighborhood changed dramatically after the Civil War until the turn of the last century when the center of the neighborhood became a brownstone section and the river portion of the area became home to manufacturing with breweries, power plants and laundries and tenement homes to house the workers. The overhead elevated trains on Second and Third Avenues added to the decline of the neighborhood (Wiki).
The rowhouses of ‘Turtle Bay Gardens’ were saved by resident, Charlotte Hunnewell Sorchan. She bought eleven of the brownstone homes and had them renovated with stucco fronts and a common garden in the back. These have been lived in by celebrities such as actresses Ruth Gordon, June Havoc and Katharine Hepburn. It was named a historic district in 1966 (Wiki).
Turtle Bay Historic District
The 2,800 unit Tudor City was built between 1927 to 1932 replacing the dangerous shanty town of ‘Prospect Hill’ where Irish gangs ruled and the neighborhood and the rest of the neighborhood was leveled between 1948 and 1952 for the United Nations Headquarters. When the elevated trains were torn down by 1956, it opened the neighborhood to new construction of high rises and apartment buildings (Wiki).
I started the walk at my favorite neighborhood starting point, 24 Sycamores Park on First Avenue and 60th Street, where I mapped out the walk. With schools letting out for the summer, the park was mobbed with kids with their nannies and baby sitters. It was nice to relax after a long day at Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen. They kept me busy on the hot line and we served over 800 lunches that afternoon, so I was tired. It is fun to just sit back on the benches under the trees and watch the kids chase one another and the pigeons.
24 Sycamores Park
Since my walk of Sutton Place, East 59th’s empty store fronts are starting to fill up with new businesses again. A lot of the windows are covered with brown paper so it looks like more businesses are coming to the neighborhood. This is how the City keeps changing . I had covered all of Second Avenue to 48th Street in my blog of Sutton Place and since technically the neighborhood does not start until East 53rd Street, I started the walk East 58th Street between Second and Lexington Avenue and then walked down Lexington Avenue to East 43rd Street and then to the United Nations by the river (I will include East 58th Street to East 54th from Second to Lexington Avenues in my Turtle Bay walks).
I started the afternoon with lunch at Lin’s Gourmet Chinese Restaurant at 1097 Second Avenue (See the reviews on TripAdvisor and DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com). They have the most amazing lunch specials for between $8.00-$8.50. I had the Beef with Broccoli with a side of pork fried rice and an eggroll ($8.25). The quality of the food is excellent as the beef was tender and well-seasoned with a combination of Hunan and soy sauce and the broccoli was perfectly cooked, a rarity in many of these take out places. The service is really friendly too. After lunch, it was off to walk the borders and Avenues of the neighborhood.
Lexington Avenue from East 58th to East 43rd Street is pretty much a commercial district. The left side of the road is lined with famous hotels and luxury apartments. Sharing this edge with Midtown East Manhattan, this area of the neighborhood is geared towards the business world and just keeps developing. I can see more newer buildings replacing the older ones in the future. Most of the hotels have been renovated in the past decade to reflex the increase of tourists into the City.
When crossing East 58th Street from Second to Lexington Avenue, I came across a gem of bakery, ‘Bon Vivant’ at 251 East 58th Street between Second and Third Avenues (See my review on TripAdvisor and LittleShoponMainStreet@Wordpress.com). This elegant little store sells the most delicious Petit fours, pastries and beverages in an elegant atmosphere. I just walked in to see what it was like and I ended up eating a large Lavender Petit Four ($6.00), that was light and sweet with just a hint of the lavender leaves in the filling. It’s a unique little store where the desserts are displayed like a work of art.
Bon Vivant for pastries
Having some energy from the dessert, I continued the walk over the next block to Lexington Avenue. Lexington Avenue is the border of the neighborhood and is more commercial than residential. The Avenue is lined with hotels and office buildings and home to some of the oldest and well-known hotels in Midtown.
On the corner of Lexington Avenue between East 59th and 58th Streets is the Bloomberg Tower at 731 Lexington Avenue, one of the first buildings merging the borders of Turtle Bay with Midtown East. This massive 55 story building of glass and steel was built in 2001 for the Bloomberg L.P., the home of the Bloomberg empire including the offices for the main company and Bloomberg news. The building was designed by reknown architect, Cesar Pelli & Associates and developed by Vornado Realty Trust. The back part of the building is called One Beacon Court and is home to condos and retail businesses and have their own private entrance. This building replaced the closed but once popular Alexander’s Department Store. Security is really tight around here and the police will watch you (Wiki).
The Bloomberg Tower ushering in a new look modern look for the neighborhood
Historical buildings especially around Lexington Avenue still prevail. One of the first buildings to really pop out at me on Lexington Avenue was the Central Synagogue at 652 Lexington Avenue on the corner of 55th Street. Designed by prominent architect Henry Fernbach, the synagogue was built between 1870 and 1872 is the oldest continuing synagogue in New York City and the second oldest in New York State. The building is one of the oldest synagogues in the country. The outside of the building was designed in Moorish Revival while the inside exterior is in a Gothic design. The Synagogue practices the Reformed Jewish faith (Wiki).
Another beautiful building is on the corner of Lexington Avenue and East 51st Street, the former RCA Victor Building now known as the General Electric Building. It was designed and built by architect John Cross of Cross & Cross in 1931. The 50 story building was designed in the Gothic style and you really have to look at the details in the structure with the elaborate masonry and architectural figural sculpture all over the building (Wiki).
570 Lexington Avenue
The building is decorated with lightening bolts and hands with blots in their hands to represent the growth of lightening and electricity. The edges of the building are decorated with figures representing energy and the dome of the building represents ‘Gothic tracery’, representing electricity and radio waves and lit from within at night. There is even a clock with the ‘GE’ logo on it on the side of the building (Wiki).
Look at the detail work of 570 Lexington Avenue
The Gothic Tracery tower of 570 Lexington Avenue
Lexington Avenue has many such historical buildings up and down the Avenue especially with hotels that dot both sides of the street. Since I started this part of the walk on June 21st, the first day of the Summer (The Summer Equinox) and the longest day of the year, there were concerts everywhere in Midtown. I stopped at 570 Lexington Avenue where they have a courtyard on the side of the building near the subway entrance.
The building was hosting part of a concert series that afternoon for people walking by while the Godiva Chocolate store in the courtyard was handing out ice cream samples to hot patrons. It was enjoyable to just relax and listen to the combo while eating that sweet, rich ice cream.
When walking down the remainder of Lexington Avenue, the street is dotted with famous hotels down to East 42nd Street. This was part of the 1916 rezoning of this part of the City when Grand Central Terminal opened to rail traffic and the City needed luxury hotels to cater to the Upper Class customers who used the rail service. Some of the oldest and most famous hotels in New York line Lexington Avenue.
Across the street from 570 Lexington Avenue is the historic 30 story Hotel Benjamin at 125 East 50th Street. The Benjamin was the former Hotel Beverly and after a massive renovation in the late 90’s was renamed after the new owners founder, Benjamin J Denihan Sr. Built in 1926-27 by building developer Moses Ginsberg and designed by architect Emery Roth, the hotel was marketed for ‘sophisticated New Yorkers at a moderate rate’. The hotel is richly decorated in a Romanesque motif and incorporates pelican and owl sculptures and warrior head corbels (NYC Landmarks Preservation).
The Benjamin Hotel
The Waldorf-Astoria Hotel at 301 Park Avenue between 50th and 49th Streets is currently closed and going under a massive renovation to condos. This block long hotel’s back faces Lexington Avenue. The hotel is converting from 1413 hotel rooms to 350 condos and a 350 room hotel when it is complete.
The hotel was designed by architects Schultz & Weaver and was designed in the Art Deco design which was popular when the hotel opened in 1931. The original hotel was demolished for the building of the Empire State Building. The hotel has been home to many famous restaurants and was considered the ‘jewel’ of the Hilton Hotel empire. Countless society events and celebrity visits too extensive to name have taken place in this hotel. It will be a wait and see when it reopens in 2021.
The InterContinental Barclay Hotel at 111 East 48th Street stretches back to East 49th Street.
The InterContinental Barclay was designed by architects Cross & Cross in 1926 in the neo-Federal American Colonial style. The thirteen story hotel was part of the concept called ‘Terminal City’ which was part of the New York Central and Terminal Corporation owned by the Vanderbilt family and contains 702 rooms. The hotel still hosts Society and corporate events.
The Hotel Roger Smith is a family run hotel that was originally called the Hotel Winthrop and gets its current name when it was part the Roger Smith Hotel Chain in the 1930’s. The hotel was designed by architects Hearn & Erich in 1926 and is made of brick with a clean look.
The Hotel Roger Smith
The Hotel Lexington opened in 1929 one of the last hotels of the building boom on Lexington Avenue. Designed by architects Schultz & Weaver who designed the Waldorf-Astoria, the Hotel Lexington was the promise of General J. Leslie Kincaid, who was President of the American Hotel Company of ‘a modern hotel with a refined atmosphere and with exceptional service without the hassles of a large hotel.” The hotel has Normanesque terracotta decorations that adorn the outside of the hotel (Wiki).
Toward the edge of the neighborhood at East 45th and Lexington Avenue is the Grand Central Post Office Annex that was built between 1903 and 1914 under the direction of the New York Central Railroad. Architect firms of Warren & Wetmore with the collaboration with architectural firm Reed & Stern designed this annex to provide railroad related office space, shops and a network of underground tracks and tunnels.
Grand Central Postal Annex
As you round Lexington Avenue to East 43rd Street to the edge of Turtle Bay, you will enter the lobby of the Chrysler Building. The Chrysler Building has a very interesting history in Manhattan as the once ‘tallest building in the world’ opening one day before the Stock Market Crash of 1929.
The building was the brain child of former New York Senator William H. Reynolds, who had a goal to build the ‘World’s Tallest Building’. He hired famed architect William Van Alen to design the building which in the late 1920’s was an Art Deco design which represented the progress, innovation and modernity of the time. By the time Reynold’s sold the property to Walter Chrysler in 1928, Van Alen and his former partner at the architectural firm they once worked at, H. Craig Severance were in a race to build the World’s Tallest Building (Wiki & Chrysler Building history).
The “Race into the Sky” began between the Chrysler Building being designed by Van Alen and 40 Wall Street being designed by Severance. They kept added floors trying to top one another and in the process build their buildings higher than the Woolworth Building then the tallest in the world. 40 Wall Street was raised to 925 feet when it opened making it the tallest building until Van Alen secretly assembled a 125 spiral for the top of the building and in October of 1929, the spiral was raised and riveted in pieces on the top of the building making it 1046 feet. It would stand the tallest in the world until the Empire State Building was finished a few years later in 1931. The Chrysler Building was the still the World’s Tallest Steel Frame Building, with a steel frame surrounded by masonry (Wiki).
Still the outside of the building is studded with gargoyles for five floors and there were hubcaps and fenders at the 31st floor and eagles on the 61st floor. Because of the 1916 Zoning, there are setbacks on various floors of the building (Wiki). The inside of the lobby is just as impressive.
On the ceiling of the triangular shaped lobby is the mural “Transport and Human Endeavor” by artist Edward Trumball, which was painted in 1930. It represents the ‘energy and man’s application of it to the solutions of his problems’. Look to the detail work to see all the figures that the artist was trying to portray (Wiki).
The lobby of the Chrysler Building should not be missed
After the small tour of the Chrysler Building I proceeded out the door down East 43rd Street towards the United Nations Building. West 43rd Street is an interesting block. By Second Avenue, you will begin to see the transition from the once ‘brownstone’ neighborhood on the corner of Second Avenue and 43rd Street to the more modern ‘glass boxes’ that now dominate the neighborhood. Here you can see how Midtown East is creeping into this once residential neighborhood.
The buildings on both sides of the street are almost a juxtapose of styles and uses until you get toward the end of the block and you are in front of the Ford Foundation Building at 320 East 43rd Street. This impressive building was built between 1963-67 and houses the Ford Foundation. It was designed by architect Kevin Roche and engineer partner John Dinkeloo who are credited for creating the first indoor tree-filled atriums in New York, which set the tone for these public spaces in modern buildings (Wiki).
The Ford Foundation Atrium
What is interesting about he design of this building is that it is a perfect glass block from the outside but a created L-Shaped design on the inside because of the atrium garden. The large windows let the sunlight in so that you can walked this tiered garden on several levels. The only problem is that there is no place to sit down in the garden and just look at it.
Just off of the main lobby is the small Ford Foundation Gallery that is also open to the public. This was a real treat in that it really gave an interesting look at ‘controversial art’. As said by gallery director, Lisa Kim, “Guided by inclusion, collaboration and urgency that are under representing in traditional art spaces. In doing so, our hope is for the Ford Foundation to be a responsive and adapted space, the one that serves the public in its openness to experimentation, contemplation and conversation.” (Ford Foundation Gallery website).
The Gallery is currently showing “Radical Love” an exhibition on art from different cultures that is sending a message of love and acceptance in society. The show’s theme is “offering love as the answer to a world in peril” and shows different artists around the world trying to portray a social median to the problems of hate and prejudice (Ford Foundation Gallery Site).
Ford Foundation Gallery “Radical Love”
After finishing up at the Ford Foundation Gallery, I toured the indoor atrium one more time walking all the tiers of the gardens and not believing that I had never seen this all before. It is really a beautiful building that you all need time out to explore.
I walked to the end of the block only to discover Tudor City with its beautiful Gothic architecture and well landscaped grounds. Tudor City is one of the first planned middle-class housing ‘skyscraper’ complexes in New York City. Built in 1926, the complex was called Tudor City due to the Tudor Revival architecture of the complex. The complex starts right behind the Ford Foundation Building and extends between East 43rd to East 40th Street on a small cliff that overlooks First Avenue, the U.N. Complex and the tip of Roosevelt Island (Wiki).
Tudor City between East 43rd to 40th Streets overlooking First Avenue
The complex was designed by the team lead by architect H. Douglas Ives for the Fred F. French Company, developers of modern apartment complexes and was the brainchild of Leonard Gans and Paine Edson, who bought up what had been derelict housing and manufacturing businesses. The complex did expand into the 1930’s and now contains 13 buildings and two parks that the buildings face in a ‘U’ pattern (Wiki).
You really have to look up at the buildings to see the great detail that was designed to give them that Gothic look. When Mr. Ives team designed the buildings, there was an array of towers, gables, turrets, bay windows, four centered arches and chimney stacks amongst the detail work with cast iron and terracotta details. You have to walk the entire complex and really look to the detail work which is quite amazing (Wiki and my own observations).
What was really nice was the small parks that line the inside of the ‘U’ shaped courtyard of the buildings. These two parks are now run by Tudor City Greens Inc., which has run the parks since 1987 and cares for the landscaping and maintenance. They do a wonderful job caring for the parks which when I walked through were being replanted and watered and full of people either reading books or having group discussions.
Tudor City gardens
While walking through the building complex, I came across Azalea & Oak at 5 Tudor Place, a little boutique specializing in women’s accessories and children’s dress-up clothes and toys (see my review on LittleShoponMainStreet@Wordpress.com). This unique little store has one of the nicest selections of children’s dress items, accessories and handmade toys that I have seen in the City.
Azalea & Oak at 5 Tudor Place
The salesperson told me the owner was formerly from Saks Fifth Avenue and you could see it in the detail of the store design and the quality of the merchandise. Don’t miss their selection of stuffed animals and handmade crowns and masks. This will be much to the delight of the younger set of customers. The owner also designs her own jewelry so there are unusual pieces to see.
The Stuffed toys at Azalea and Oak at 5 Tudor Place
I rounded 43rd Street and came back to visit Ralph Bunche Park that is at the end of East 43rd Street. It is not much a park as most of it is under scaffolding for renovations of Tudor City. The park is named in 1979 after Ralph Bunche was the first African-American to win the Nobel Peace Prize. Mr. Bunche was a diplomat, scientist and academic who won the award in 1950 for work on mediation with Israel.
Diplomat Ralph Bunche who the park is named after
As you are walking down the granite stairs to First Avenue, notice the quote from Isiah 2:4 carved into the wall “They shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spires into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore.” The stairs, now called the ‘Sharnasky Steps, named after dissident Nathan Sharansky, were built and dedicated during the construction of the U.N. In front of the stairs is a 50 foot steel obelisk by artist Daniel LaRue Johnson, entitled “Peace Form One” that was created in 1980 (Wiki).
Mr. Johnson has studied at Chouinard and in Paris and was part of the African-American artist movement in Los Angeles that dealt with the social and political changes in the mid-Twentieth century. He had also known Mr. Bunche as well (Artist Bio).
The Sharansky Steps with the Wall of Isiah
Once down the steps, you will find yourself in front of the United Nations Building that sits on the East River and is very impressive.
The United Nations Building complex is under ‘lock and key’ and don’t bother trying to walk around the grounds. Everything is behind a fence with tons of security surrounding all sides of the building. The complex is about 18 acres that line the East River from East 42nd and East 48th Streets.
The complex was designed by architect Wallace Harrison for the firm of Harrison & Abramovitz and was completed in 1952. The whole area was cleared of manufacturing and the complex replaced blight in the neighborhood with a brand new building and parks. The Rockefeller family was one of the biggest cheerleaders for the site and Nelson Rockefeller helped purchase the land for the site (Wiki).
The building is built in a long horizontal block that houses the meeting rooms and a tall tower in the center for the Secretariat. The building is surrounded by pathways and lawn to give the building the impression of power and with the flags of the nations surrounding it, an international flair. Still walking up United Nations Plaza back up to East 48th Street to where I stopped at the edge of Sutton East, there is armed security all over the place and its best to blend into the crowds.
The United Nations Building which covers the edges of Turtle Bay with the East River
I continued the walk up United Nations Plaza up to East 48th Street and walked down the block towards Third Avenue. Once you round First Avenue, you will see less security in front of the buildings when you go back into the neighborhood.
East 48th Street is a beautiful block of old brownstones and apartment buildings and has a real neighborhood feel to it. I have discovered that the blocks above East 50th Street once you past Second Avenue are becoming more commercial with lots of large apartment and office buildings. It feels more like Midtown and once you get below East 50th Street, it looks more historical and quintessential ‘Old New York’.
I walked up and down the remainder of Second Avenue from East 43rd to East 48th Streets that border the neighborhood with Sutton East. Most of the buildings are glass boxes with commercial businesses on the bottom. There is one stand out on these five blocks in front of the Consulate General of Nigeria at 828 Second Avenue on the corner of East 44th Street and Second Avenue. It is a sculpture called ‘Zuma’ by artist Billy Omebegho.
Zuma by artist Billy Omebegho
Mr. Omebegho is considered one of the foremost modern sculptures in Nigeria and created the work in 1991. Born in Nigeria in 1944, Mr. Omebegho studied art at both Cornell University (fellow Alumnus) and New York University. The work ‘Zuma’ was created in 1991 and is a zig-zag form to symbolizes rebirth and renewal and the snake like pattern represents air, water, heaven and earth (Culture Now). This unique sculpture had some controversy in 2005 when the Consulate was approached about replacing it but it still stands proudly at the entrance.
As I passed along Second Avenue to Third Avenue, I passed a row of brownstones on the right which are the Turtle Bay Gardens houses. These were the homes that were saved, preserved and renovated by Charlotte Hunnewell Sorchan in the 1920. The two rows of ten homes were built in the 1860’s and when they were renovated and updated now share a common garden with the homes on East 49th Street. These graceful brownstones set the tone for the neighborhood (Turtle Bay History).
Turtle Bay Gardens Historic District
As you pass Turtle Bay Gardens, another unique house stands out at 211 East 48th Street, the William Lescaze House. William Lescaze was a Swiss-born New Yorker who was credited with bringing the modernist movement in the United States by building this house in 1934. The four story home served as his personal home and studio (Curbed NY).
William Lescaze House at 211 East 48th Street
As I rounded back down Second Avenue to East 43rd Street and crossed over to Third Avenue to walk from East 43rd to East 59th Streets this is another block in transition. Third Avenue has pretty much been torn down is more like Midtown than Turtle Bay. There are a few holdovers from another era meaning the 60’s and 70’s in the way of restaurants.
Tucked in between all the glass towers that have changed this part of the neighborhood there are some culinary gems that still serve customers as they have for years starting with Smith & Wollensky at 797 Third Avenue.
Smith & Wollensky Restaurant at 797 Third Avenue
Smith & Wollensky is a legendary steakhouse that has been in this location since 1977. What is interesting about this popular restaurant is that the name was taken out of the phone book. The creators of the restaurant, Allan Stillman (of TGI Friday’s fame) and Ben Benson, looked in the phone book to Smith and then Wollensky to get the name.
The restaurant was originally called Manny Wolf’s Steakhouse which had been in business from 1897 until the name change in 1977. It is now owned by the Patina Restaurant Group although the original New York restaurant is still owned by Mr. Stillman. The restaurant is known for its USDA Prime Grade beef which is all butchered in house (Wiki and Smith & Wollensky history). The building like the rest of the neighborhood is surrounded by a glass box skyscraper.
Another well known restaurant on Third Avenue is P.J. Clarke’s at 915 Third Avenue on the corner of Third Avenue and East 55th Street. P. J. Clarke’s was established in 1884 by a Mr. Duneen and Patrick J. Clarke was one of his employees. After ten years of working at the bar, he bought the establishment from Mr. Duneen and renamed it P.J. Clarke’s. The restaurant has been known for its pub food and popular bar scene.
The restaurant like Smith & Wollensky’s is a holdout from the past and is surrounded by a glass office building. 919 Third Avenue was built around the restaurant in the late 60’s and the owners, the Lavezzo brothers had the owners build around their property. In an agreement, they bought the building from the two brothers and knocked the top two floors of the restaurant down. Due to financial difficulties the brothers lost the restaurant and it is now owned by new group of investors (Wiki).
P.J. Clarke’s in comparison to 919 Third Avenue showing the changes on Third Avenue
Third Avenue has it pockets of the old neighborhood here and there but is now firmly establishing itself as part of Midtown with its gleaming office buildings and apartment houses giving the Avenue a modern look.
As I walked back down Third Avenue, some street art caught my attention. Outside the U.S. Post Office at 909 Third Avenue is the sculpture, Red Flying Group by artist Ann Gillen, that adds some life to the building that looks like geometric blocks.
Red Flying Group by artist Ann Gillen outside 909 Third Avenue
Ms. Gillen has been trained in Industrial design at Pratt and got her MFA from Columbia University’s School of Art. She is noted in the use of color and the structure suggests a human body in motion. She uses all sorts of materials in her art noted with metals and stone work. Red Flying Group is based on man’s sense of motion (Wiki).
The other standout on Third Avenue was the mural of the fallen fireman in honor of 9/11. The mural by artist Eduardo Kobra, who based the painting on a photo of fire fighter Mike Bellantoni, who arrived at the scene after the second tower fell. The picture was taken by New York Post photographer Matthew McDermott (NY Post 2018). The painting depicts an exhausted fire fighter on the scene.
Mural outside of 780 Third Avenue
Mr. Kobra was noted in saying of the mural “I was paying homage to the fire fighters who fought bravely that day. The helmet represents the 343 fire fighters lost that day and the colors represent one goal, to pass on the message of life, of a restart and of reconstruction.” (Time Out Magazine).
Mr. Kobra is a Brazilian street artist who has a passion for street art. His use of squares and triangles bring life to his paintings. His use of photorealism and color bring life to his works of art (Wiki).
The one building that does stand out prominently on Third Avenue is on the corner of Third Avenue and 53rd Street, “The Lipstick Building” at 885 Third Avenue. The building was designed by John Burgee Architects with Philip Johnson and was completed in 1986. What stands out about this building is the oval design and color of the building. What makes the building unusual is the ‘set back’ space required by zoning laws and how the building seems to retract ‘as if it retract telescopically’ (Wiki and Architectural firm).
The Lipstick Building
It also has an usual shade of burgundy or dark pink that makes it stand out among the other office buildings in the area. At the base are large columns that act like a ‘post-modern’ entrance to the building and allow pedestrians to walk freer in the space (Wiki and Architectural firm). I just think the building has a unusual beauty to it in that it defies the contemporary design of the more square glass boxes and its shape and color make it stand out in a neighborhood where there is too much of the same design. Buildings like this is what gives the City character.
The columned entrance to the Lipstick Building
As I rounded down Third Avenue to East 43rd Street and headed up Third Avenue again, you can see more changes in the distance in the area around Grand Central Station with new buildings soon to be open on Madison Avenue and along 42nd Street. More construction and more buildings are going up around the station.
As I traveled up Lexington Avenue to East 59th Street, I saw the after-work crowd bring more life to the neighborhood. Between the office buildings and the hotels in the area, the place was loaded with tourists and office workers milling around after a long day and the sidewalks were jammed.
I ended my day rounding East 59th Street and having dinner from Blue and Gold Deli at 1075 First Avenue. I had been in earlier to buy a lottery ticket (did not win so still walking) and noticed their menu and the very reasonable prices. I decided on a Meatball hero ($7.00) with a Coke which I took over to 24 Sycamores Park to eat. It was still light out at 8:00pm and I watched the children playing around in the park with their parents while I ate. The meatball sandwich was loaded with meatballs and a nicely spiced tomato sauce. It was good but not a standout so it warrants another try.
As I ate and watched the night sky get darker, it was fun to watch the world go by and people continue on with their business. I really wonder if they see the same things I do when walking to work or school.
If you have never visited the Brooklyn Botanical Garden when visiting New York City you are missing a lot. I have been a member of the garden since 2002 and fell in love with walking around the gardens when visiting the Brooklyn Museum next door. It is the most relaxing place to walk around and just think. It is also nice to grab a book, sit under a tree and just relax.
One of the benefits of membership are the private event nights that the Gardens have for its members. ‘Rose Night’ is one of my favorites. This is when the Crawford Rose Garden and the surrounding rose gardens to the main one are in full bloom and on display. Because the weather has been so hot lately most plants have been blooming about two weeks ahead of their normal schedule.
The Crawford Rose Garden was no exception as the recent hot weather and two rain storms put some strain on the rose bushes and some of them were going out of bloom the night of the party. Still the roses were ablaze with color and the fragrant smells of the garden were prevalent all over the garden. The event draws a very large crowd and people were all over the place picnicking and relaxing while listening to a jazz band that was performing inside the cherry trees.
I started my day working at the Soup Kitchen working in the prep kitchen for the morning. They kept me busy making a cucumber and tomato salad and cutting kale for a side dish they were making the next day. One thing I like about working at Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen is that the work is never dull. They always keep me busy.
Since I had plenty of time before the event, I decided to take a trip down to Coney Island to explore any changes that were going on in the amusement center. I wanted to visit the New York Aquarium and see the new ‘Shark Tanks’ exhibition and revisit the Coney Island Museum. When I arrived at the beach about 45 minutes later it was beautiful, clear and sunny on Surf Avenue.
The afternoon started out at Nathan’s at 1310 Surf Avenue for lunch (see review on TripAdvisor). I swear that I eat at Nathan’s in the suburb malls and it never tastes as good as it does in the original restaurant on Coney Island. Be prepared to face the lines for the rest of the summer as beach season approaches.
Nathan’s Coney Island
Their hot dogs and French fries are the best but they do not come cheap. I think this restaurant is getting more and more geared to tourists wanting to visit Coney Island. The hot dog was $4.75 and the French fries were $3.75, which is a little ridiculous considering a pack of their hot dogs are $1.99 and a bag of their frozen French fries are $1.99 on sale at the supermarket.
Still their hot dogs were delicious. They have a nice garlicky snap to them and are nicely grilled and their French fries are cooked to perfection. It is nice to enjoy your lunch at their outside tables where you can breath in the fresh salt air. After finishing my lunch, I visited the New York Aquarium at 602 Surf Avenue.
Nathan’s Hot Dogs and French fries
The aquarium is finally updating itself as this is the first addition to the park in years. I got there in time before the last sea lion show and that was fun. The ‘Sea Lion Celebration’ as they call it takes place in the summer at 11:00am, 1:00pm, 3:00pm and 5:30pm. The trainers look like they are having a good time with animals. These sea lions were born and raised at the aquarium so they are used to being around humans. The surprising part is that they act like humans with their responses. Unlike a zoo, these mammals get out and get their exercise. It is an interesting show as they are very talented and seem to enjoy working with the trainers.
New York Aquarium
I was able to walk through the ‘Ocean Wonders: Sharks!” exhibition before the aquarium closed for the evening. I found it fascinating about the history of sharks and their place in ocean world and where they are on the feeding scale. They hardly care about eating humans and like one of the displays said that ‘Jaws’ gave them a bad wrap. They are bottom dwellers who eat all the things that are ‘left over’ and are a good cleanser for the sea.
We as humans unfortunately over-fish them or with some of the Asian countries, they will cut off the fins of the sharks for meat and then throw them back into the sea where they drown, which I think it the cruelest thing you can do to an animal. Its like being buried alive and the aquarium showed the results of what happens to this fish when it happens.
The last large tank before you leave has several variety of sharks and fish which sets up an almost feeding ecosystem for them and it looks almost graceful watching the sea go by. They even have a small crawl tunnel where you can travel under the fish to see them up close. At the top of the exhibition, they have a new restaurant, ‘Oceanview Bites’.
The tunnel under the tanks
After the aquarium, I visited the Coney Island Museum at 1208 Surf Avenue (See reviews on TripAdvisor and VisitingaMuseum.com). This is the most underrated museum that covers the history of Coney Island from just being dunes that Walt Whitman read poetry on to the modern day amusement parks to current developments.
The museum covers this history of the three great amusement parks, Steeplechase, Luna and Dreamland Parks especially in their heyday. The amusement area of Coney Island still is considered one of the most innovative in history and most developments in amusement rides took place in Coney Island.
The Coney Island Museum
Each room covers a part of the history of Coney Island from its years as a luxury resort, to seaside travel to the island, development of the amusement industry, to modern times and what the new developments might bring to the area. I was lucky enough to meet the curator of the museum, Lisa Mangels-Schaefer, whose family has a rich history on the island as a manufacturer of amusement rides. Her grandfather had manufactured and maintained many of the amusement rides in the park.
As the only two at the museum at the time, she gave me a personal tour of the museum, explaining the many displays and artifacts of the museum. She also told me stories of how her family used to manufacture the amusement rides back at the turn of the last century.
Some of the manufactured items by Ms. Mangels-Schaefer’s family
There are a lot of interesting artifacts at the museum from illuminated post cards to old amusement rides to many nostalgic pictures of the area from various times of history. Each gallery covers another theme of the history of the area. Don’t miss the displays of the amusement rides and the hall of fun house mirrors. For a $5.00, this museum is a real treat.
After the museum, I walked on the boardwalk for awhile and then just put my feet in the ocean. After a long day of working in the kitchen, it started to catch up to me. It was nice to feel the cool water and breath in the salt air. Coney Island has its problems as I could see but still it is a place to relax and have fun. I just laid on the beach, relaxed and let the sun shine down on me. The view of the Rockaways in the distance is really nice and on a clear sunny day, the views were wonderful.
Coney Island Beach
By 5:00pm, it was time to go back up to the Botanical Garden for the ‘Rose Night’ cocktail party and tours. I was smart taking the Q back as I got off by the back entrance and did not have to face the crowds of the main entrance by the Brooklyn Museum. I got there at the opening at 6:30pm and the place was already mobbed with people. The main part of the gardens by the cherry trees must have had about three hundred people sitting down having their picnic dinner.
While everyone else was conversing on the main lawn, I took the time to walk the gardens and see the Crawford Rose Gardens in bloom. It had been hot over the last two months and all the flowers were blooming two weeks earlier than usual so a lot of roses had already bloomed and had fallen off the branches due to two recent rain storms.
Still there were lot of species of roses and many were still at the height of blooming and made a very colorful and fragrant display while touring the paths. Many types of roses had the big blooms and smelled like perfume. Others lined the trellises and created a beautiful display overhead. You really have to take your time to admire the true beauty of the garden which only has about two weeks of blooming.
Crawford Rose Garden
After I left the Crawford Rose Garden, I walked the back fountain area which had large rose bushes that were all in bloom. The fountain had been cleaned and turned on for the event so it made quite an impression in color and design with the way the rose bushes were growing.
For the rest of the evening, I walked all the different garden concepts from the Rock Gardens to the Shakespeare Gardens to the new water recycling gardens that had just been completed. All the tulip, daffodil and magnolia gardens were long gone but still a good memory of visiting a couple of months earlier.
The only problem with the event is that it has gotten so big. When it was much smaller it was more intimate and concentrated in one part of the garden but now there are more members and it is the first official ‘picnic night’ in the garden so it has gotten crowded. Also they stopped making that wonderful ‘rose cocktail’ they used to make for the event and had canned and bottled beverages that were between $8.00 to $12.00 which I thought was a little ridiculous. I know you have to raise money but $8.00 for a non-alcoholic canned beverage? I waited to go to Family Pizza at 720 Flatbush Avenue (see review on TripAdvisor) for some dinner.
Still it was nice to have the gardens for the members only night and the newly renovated Japanese Gardens had opened again so I spent the last part of the evening walked around the wooded paths and stopping at the pagoda to look at the man-made lake that now feed the entire Botanical Garden its water supply. You could still hear the jazz band on the main lawn from here and it was a nice place to just sit and relax and enjoy the sun setting.
It is a simple evening of walking paths and looking at flowers while listening to music but still isn’t that what a pleasant evening in a garden is supposed to be?
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.
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).
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.
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).
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 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
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 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.
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 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).
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.
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.
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).
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.
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).
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)
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.
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.
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.
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).
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
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.
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 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.
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).
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
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.
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 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.
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
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.
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 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.
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
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.
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.
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
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’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 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.
On Saturday, December 15th, I met with other members of the Cornell Club to travel back to the Victorian Era and learn about the traditions of the Christmas past. We explored the Gramercy Park, Union Square and lower Sixth Avenue sections of the City to visit where a New York Victorian Christmas would be celebrated and honored.
We would be walking the old “Ladies Shopping Mile” that had been built up right after the Civil War when the disposable income for Middle and Upper Middle Class residents had increased after the Civil War and people wanted to spend their money at the newly built department stores, shops and restaurants. The Industrial Revolution was in full swing and shopping had changed with the development of the department store.
The tour took us past brownstones, parks, restaurants and old department stores that line the streets of Manhattan between East and West 21st Street to 23rd Street and along that stretch of Sixth Avenue which is lined with the old buildings that once housed some of New York City’s great department stores.
The tour started on a sunny morning in Gramercy Park just off East 21st Street right near the Gramercy Park Hotel at the Cyrus Field House at One Lexington Avenue. The plaque was laid on the side of the old home dedicated to the man who laid out the first Atlantic cable in 1858. Cyrus West Field was a self-made man who founded his own business and retired at 33 with a fortune of $250,000 (about 6 million today). He and his brother, David, an attorney had built twin mansions side by side facing Gramercy Park which was then being developed into a private park for the neighborhood in 1844 by Samuel Ruggles.
Cyrus West Field along with Fredrick Newton Gisborne, a Canadian inventor and electrician had laid out the first undersea cables. Partnering up, they laid the first successful cable line to Europe in 1866 after two other failed tries. Even with his successes, when his wife, Mary died in 1891 and his son’s banking business failed and his partner’s daughter in law was his sister, Grace who took ill and died later that year. Cyrus Field was vacationing in his summer home when he died as well (Wiki & the tour guide).
The Field Mansion before it was torn down
Both his and his brother’s house were purchased by another banker who renovated them into one mansion. His business would later fail and he also was forced into bankruptcy. The houses were part of an ever changing New York neighborhood and were demolished and replaced by the Italian Renaissance apartment building that sits there today with the plaque neatly presented on the side of the building. A very interesting place for a colorful family history.
After we left the site of the Field Mansion, we toured the sides of Gramercy Park, which was created in 1844 by Samuel Ruggles, who developed the area as an exclusive enclave. The 22 acre site was once a swamp and the farm of James Duane, the son of the Mayor of New York and a direct descendant of Peter Stuyvesant, called ‘Gramercy Farm’. The park was enclosed by a fence in 1833 and the parcels surrounding it were developed in 1840. The park’s landscaping was done by James Virtue and the park was surrounded by 39 lots whose owners had access to the private park. Today only those people residing in the 39 lots surrounding the park can have a key to it and help in the maintenance of the park (Wiki).
As we passed the park which looked a little sparse due to the time of the year with the exception of the pines and the Christmas Tree in the center of the park. Still you can see the elegance of the park and the constant upkeep of the landscaping. Behind the locked doors, it is almost a secret garden almost waiting to be discovered. Even today, you still need that key to open the door to the park and you have to live in the area to get in.
Christmas Tree in Gramercy Park today
While we were at the park, the tour guide gave us a little history of a Victorian Christmas and the rules and etiquette of the holidays under the rule of Queen Victoria and her marriage to Prince Albert who was from Germany.
When the marriage took place, Prince Albert had brought many of his traditions with him and introduced the Pagan tradition of bringing evergreen trees into the house. Since it was the only tree that was green during the long winter months, the Pagans brought it into the warmth as a sign of life. It was later decorated with sweets and small gifts then got more elaborate with candles and ornaments. Ornaments started to appear in 1853.
The idea of the Christmas card came in 1843 when Henry Cole created the first card with a simple message. By the 1880’s, the Victorians were sending out the cards in great numbers due to the advancement of the postal services, many of them handmade by the children of the house. Decorating the house got more and more elaborate. What had started with a simple tree and garland to decorate the doors and windows became more detailed with decorations.
Gift giving was once relegated to New Year’s Day but as Christmas became the more predominate holiday, gifts were given either Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. Initial gifts were things like small handmade trinkets and sweets and then moved to store bought gifts from the developing department stores that could be placed under the tree.
The Christmas Dinner had its roots in Medieval times but became more elaborate after the Civil War. During the Revolutionary War, Christmas Day meal was a family affair after church services but by the 1880’s as the Industrial Revolution started to change the way we lived, it became the feast we celebrate today.
Roasted meats like goose and duck were some of the things served but later turkey became a favorite for dinner. It became predominate on a middle class family table because the average turkey could feed a family nicely for dinner. Even Christmas crackers, which were invented by Thomas Smith in 1848 on an idea he saw in Paris on the way bon-bons were wrapped. He perfected them to ‘pop’ when they opened and were then filled with candies and small toys. This became part of the place setting.
Since the holiday was now being based around the family, things like parlor games and Christmas carols became family favorites. Carols had started during Medieval times and had been brought back by the Victorians. The family was the center of the holiday and a family was only restricted by their budget.
There were also strict rules on visits during the preparation for the holiday. Our guide pointed out that when you visited a home leading up to the holidays, etiquette stated you stayed for about ten minutes and you only partook in the food that was laid out, such as a plate of Christmas cookies and you did not linger. The host had lots to do to prepare for the holiday and she did not want you stay and take up her time.
As we rounded the corner and the tour guide discussed the attributes of the park, he also talked about the history of the architecture that surrounds it. Many structures have a long and very interesting history.
4 Gramercy Park West
At 4 Gramercy Park West is the James Harper House, which almost resembles something you would see in New Orleans with its decorative iron work and graceful porches. The homes were built in 1846 for the James Harper, the Mayor of New York and one of the founders of Harper-Collins Publishing. The house was a Greek Revival design with an iron lace terrace with a mirror image of the home next to it with the exception of the lamps outside the house.
History has said that the lanterns in front of the home are a throw back to the Dutch era when lantern bearers accustomed to escort the Burgomaster home with the proper dignity from the city tavern or another place of entertainment. The Dutch custom of placing special lamps at the mayor’s door was an aid to finding his house at night but by Harper’s day, it was just ceremonial. The customer ended with the establishment of Gracie Mansion as the Mayor’s residence(Ephemeral New York).
3 & 4 Gramercy Park
Harper died in 1869 and the house stayed in the family until 1923. It was known also for being the rumored home townhouse for the book “Stuart Little” and again achieved fame for being on the cover of Bob Dylan’s 1965 album cover for ‘Highway 61 Revisited’ (Ephemeral New York & the tour guide).
From the Harper House , we visited the Samuel Tildon House at 15& 16 Gramercy Park South around the corner from the Harper House. This historic townhouse was built in 1845 and the home of former New York Governor Samuel J. Tilden who was a fierce opponent of the Tweed Ring and the losing Presidential candidate in the 1876 election. He lived in the house until his death in 1886 (Wiki & tour guide).
The Samuel Tilden House
The house was combined and redesigned by Calvert Vaux with the row house next door to make the building it is today. The brownstone was considered the height of Victorian Gothic in residential architecture with Italian Renaissance style elements. Since 1906, it now serves at the National Arts Club (Wiki & tour guide).
The home at 16 Gramercy Park South, now the home of the Players Club has an interesting past as well. The home was bought by Edwin Booth, one of the great Shakespearean actors of the 19th Century and one of the founders of The Players Club. He was the brother of John Wilkes Booth, the assassin of Abraham Lincoln. He turned over the deed to the house in 1888 to the club (Wiki & tour guide).
The Players Club which was owned by Edwin Booth
From the square of scandals and shame we moved to look inside the park where a statue of Edwin Booth stands. It was an interesting twist of events that he landed in New York City. The whole area was designated as the Gramercy Park Historical District in 1966 (Wiki & the tour guide).
Our next place to visit was the famous Pete’s Tavern at Irving Place at 129 East 18th Street. This famous bar/restaurant has been around since 1864 and has been a major watering hall for the neighborhood. The building was originally known as the Portman Hotel and was built in 1829. It was known as a ‘grocery & grog” store and may have been serving alcohol since 1852 (Wiki).
Pete’s Tavern is now an Italian restaurant
The writer O. Henry lived down the block at 55 Irving Place from 1903 to 1907 when the place was called Healy’s after Tom and John Healy, who bought the restaurant in 1899. The famous writer included the name of the bar in a short story entitled “The Lost Blend” under the name “Kenealy’s”. It has been rumored that he wrote the well-known story “The Gift of the Magi” in the second booth from the front but it can not be proved (Wiki & the tour guide).
The Irving House
Around the corner from Pete’s Tavern is 11 Commerce Street, the Irving House, the former home of Washington Irving’s sister. The Federalist style home was built in 1826 and was rumored to be where he wrote part of the book “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow”. No one was too sure where Washington Irving Jr. came from because Washington Irving did not have any children.
The Irving House at 11 Commerce Street
We left the Gramercy Park District which is slowly changing on the fringes of the Historic District from residential to modern hotels and apartments refigured into the older buildings of the neighborhood to the very modern and updated and hip Union Square Park.
Union Square Park was once the cross-roads from the old commercial part of Manhattan to the residential part of the island. When Manhattan was surveyed by John Randel for the Commissioner’ Plan of 1811 to create the grid of the island, Broadway angled away from the Bowery that would have been awkward to build on and it was decided to create a square at the union of the two streets. Samuel Ruggles, who had created Gramercy Park renamed the are ‘Union Square’ from its former name, ‘Union Place’. It was Ruggles who developed the area with streets and plantings at the park (Wiki & the tour guide).
At first the area was a fashionable residential area surrounded by brownstones and mansions but after the Civil War, the area gave way to a commercial shopping district that included Tiffany & Company and FAO Schwarz Toy Store. The area is now home to many upscale merchants and restaurants once again. It also has one of the biggest Farmer’s Markets in the City.
Union Square today facing the once fashionable shopping district
From Union Square, our group walked to Sixth Avenue down West 17th Street to the start of the Ladies Mile Historic Shopping District. Today the area is still going through changes from discount superstores to advertising and communications companies but between the Civil War and World War I, the district was home to some of the most famous department and specialty stores of the time, places of worship and performance venues like the Academy of Music and Steinway Hall (Wiki & the tour guide). It is here where Victorian Christmas roots began.
We started the tour on West 17th Street and walked our way up Sixth Avenue while admiring the old department store buildings. One point that the tour guide wanted us to all note was the big windows on the second and sometimes third floor of the buildings. This was done when the old ‘Sixth Avenue El’ subway line used to travel down the avenue before the war so that people could see the clothes and fashions from the elevated subway cars. We walked up Sixth Avenue and we noted all the stores we passed and a little on the history of each store.
The old B. Altman & Company building located at 625 Sixth Avenue between West 18th and 19th Streets was once a luxury department store that catered to the strictly ‘carriage trade’ clientele of the time. It had been founded in 1865 by the Altman family on the lower East Side and progressed uptown to this location in 1877. It was originally designed by David and John Jardine, a New York architectural firm.
The store had been known for couture merchandise and fine furniture. As the clientele changed and moved uptown after World War I, the company moved the new store to Fifth Avenue and East 34th Street in 1906. The company went bankrupt in 1990 (Wiki, History of Department Stores & the tour guide).
B. Altman & Company store at 625 Sixth Avenue & West 18th Street
Our next stop was at the old Siegel-Cooper Company Department store at 620 Sixth Avenue at 18th Street. The company was founded in 1887 by Henry Siegel, Frank Cooper and Isaac Keim in Chicago and opened their store on State Street.
Their second store opened in New York City in 1896 at 620 Sixth Avenue between West 18th and West 19th Streets. The store used innovative steel-framing, the first department store in New York to use this construction, to create the world’s largest store at the time (to be surpassed by Macy’s Herald Square). The offered a wide variety of dry-goods and shops including a art gallery, conservatory selling plants, a photo studio and a 350 seat restaurant . The store was designed by the firm of DeLemos & Cordes in the Beaux-Arts style (Wiki & the tour guide).
The Siegel-Cooper Company store at 620 Sixth Avenue
The main floor featured a copy of David Chester French’s statue, The Republic inside a marble enclosed fountain on the first floor which the phase “Meet me at the Fountain” became the store slogan (Wiki & the tour guide).
The fountain that was at Siegel-Cooper
Yet by 1902, Henry Siegel sold the store and the company went bankrupt in 1915 and the store closed in 1917 and became a military hospital during World War I. Today the store is home to Marshall’s and TJ Maxx. It’s ornate outside is really hidden now.
We next moved on to the Simpson-Crawford Department Store at 641 Sixth Avenue between West 19th and 20th Streets, which once catered to the wealthy elite of Manhattan and beyond. The store was established in 1878 by Richard Meares and William Crawford as Richard Meares & Company. Meares left the firm a year later and William Crawford then partnered with Thomas and James Simpson to create Simpson, Crawford and Simpson. When Thomas Simpson died in 1885, the store became known as Simpson-Crawford (Daytonian in Manhattan).
Simpson-Crawford Store today at Sixth Avenue between West 19th and 20th Streets
When James Simpson died in 1894, William Crawford became the sole owner and in 1899 with the rise of the great stores on Sixth Avenue, Crawford designed a new store of marble designed by William H. Hume & Son. The exterior of the store shined with polished marble and granite (Daytonian in Manhattan & the tour guide).
The store had many innovations at the time. It had the first escalator in the city, the first display windows with mannequins and large display windows that had to be created for the store. The store was stocked with the finest imported clothes, furs and laces and on the top floor was a restaurant that catered to 1200 guests (Daytonian in Manhattan & the tour guide).
Before the store opened, William Simpson retired and sold the store to Henry Siegel across the street who kept the tradition of the store going. When Siegel-Cooper Company collapsed in 1914, Simpson-Crawford was kept closed for three weeks and then reopened. Both stores closed one year later and the store was converted to mail order warehouse. Today it holds various stores (Daytonian in Manhattan).
Our next stop was in front of Hugh O’Neill’s Dry Goods Store at 655 Sixth Avenue between West 20th and 21st Streets. It was built by the firm of Mortimer C. Merritt in the neo-Grec style who built the four stages of the building between 1887-1890 (Wiki & the tour guide).
The Hugh O’Neill Store when it opened in 1890
Hugh O’Neill had started a small dry goods business right after the Civil War in 1865 with a small store around Union Square. In 1870, he decided to build a trade on the middle market customer and offered discounts on goods. The four floors of merchandise contained laces, ribbons, clocks and on the upper floors women’s and children’s clothing (Wiki).
When O’Neill died in 1902, the shopping area had just began its decline and in 1906 it merged with Adams Dry Goods up the block. A year later they both went out of business as the area gave way to manufacturing. The building today has been converted into condos.
The Hugh O’Neill store today
Our last store that we looked at and discussed was the former Adams Dry Goods Store at 675 Sixth Avenue between West 21st and 22nd Street.
Samuel Adams, a merchant who had been selling upscale clothing and furnishing to customers in the area decided to open a store on Sixth Avenue. He used the architectural firm of DeLemos & Cordes, who had designed the Seigel-Cooper Department Store and the six story building opened in 1902. The store was the first in New York City to use the new Pneumatic tubes to transport money and messages throughout the store (Wiki).
Adam’s Dry Goods Store when it opened in 1902
The problem with the store was its location. He built the store at the very edge of the neighborhood as the business changed. As the shopping area started to decline in the early 1900’s, Adams sold the store to Hugh O’Neill Dry Goods Store and they merged the two companies together, converting three floors of the Adams Dry Goods store to furniture. This concept was not popular as well and the businesses failed and the store closed in 1913 (Wiki & the tour guide).
Adams Dry Goods Store today at Sixth Avenue between West 21st and 22nd Streets
The store has gone through a manufacturing stage and in the 80’s became part of the change to large box retailing. The building now houses eBay and several stores including Trader Joe’s and Michael’s. As we could see on the tour, the old department stores are finding new life in retailing.
The last part of our tour discussed one of the most famous Christmas poems, “A Visit from St. Nicolas” or known as “Twas the Night Before Christmas” , which was one of the first mentionings of Santa Claus in a modern form, written in 1822 and published in 1823 anonymously. Some saw the poem as a social satire on the ‘Victorianization’ of Christmas (Wiki & the tour guide). Our tour guide said you really have to read into the poem to see what it is really saying about the times that it was written in. He noted really read the line “Had just settled our brains for a long winter’s nap” as the stress of the holidays and child rearing was even back then.
“A visit from St. Nicholas”
It was in 1837 that poet Clement Clark Moore claimed to be the author. Even today there is a controversy of who really wrote the poem, Clement Clark Moore or Major Henry James Livingston Jr. This discussion is still being debated today (Wiki).
Clement Clarke Moore poet
How the poem mixed well into the tour is that Clement Moore’s family owned an estate here on the area on West 23rd Street between Hudson River and Eighth Avenue from West 24th Street to West 19th Street. His home was at 348 West 23rd Street. He developed the area after donating a large portion of the estate to his church and created a residential neighborhood that still stands today.
The Clement Clarke Moore estate when he sold it into real estate parcels
I walked the entire neighborhood after we said our goodbyes on Ninth Avenue by the subway and discovered an ever gentrifying neighborhood of brownstones and small mansions. The one home that stood out amongst the brownstones was the James Wells Mansion at 400-412 West 27th Street.
The James Wells Mansion in Chelsea one of the most beautiful homes on the block
James N. Wells was a real estate broker and built the house in 1835 when Clement Clarke Moore developed this part of his estate. He built the grand house for his family. Sometime in 1866 after the Civil War, the house was renovated and a mansard roof was added to the house. It must have not stayed in the family too long after this as it was turned into a home for the aged in 1867 (Wiki). Today it has been restored by its owners to its grand glory.
The last part of the tour I visited the only spot that still carries the name of the family to know that the estate was located here and it was the Clement Moore Park at West 23rd to 22nd Streets on Tenth Avenue. The park was initiated by the West 400 Block Association to turn a neglected lot into a park and in 1965 it was opened to the public. When I visited the park that afternoon and others to complete the walk of the neighborhood, the park was closed for renovations.
Clement Moore Park before the renovation
This is where I ended the tour that day. I walked this part of West 23rd Street from Sixth Avenue to Tenth Avenue on my own to see the development of the estate and how the gentrification of Chelsea was progressing. Let me put it this way, the Clement Clarke Moore brownstone was on the market in 2016 for 8.7 million dollars. I wonder how he would feel about that today?
Check out my Christmas blogs this year (2018) and my busy holiday season that stretched from the Hudson River Valley in New York State to Rehoboth Beach, Delaware. I swear my feet never touched the ground the whole holiday season.
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year everyone!
I want to add these two new Christmas songs by the late Jazz artist Al Jarreau and current up and coming artist Lindsey Webster for you all to enjoy. They got me through my Christmas Holiday season.
Christmas Morning by Al Jarreau:
It’s Gonna Snow on Christmas by Lindsey Webster:
Again everyone have a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
I do not know how Christmas creeps up every year. It starts when Forth of July weekend ends and then we blink our eyes and there is Christmas. The years just keep getting faster and faster. Even though the holiday season snuck up on me the month of December was full of interesting events.
I had to put my walk around Manhattan on hold for most of the holiday season. Between classes, work, the Fire Department and selling Christmas trees (as you have seen in other blogs), the month of December was a busy one. There were different events to attend, activities to participate in and places to visit.
Christmas to me is not just the holiday itself but the time of the year to give back and help raise money for those in need. I really believe in giving back to the community during the holidays so there was a whole series of fundraisers that I attended. As my friends always say of me, you never sit still for one minute.
The holiday season started right after returning from seeing Lillian out in Kings Park, NY. We had such a nice time together having dinner with the other families and enjoying the entertainment that I promised her that I would see her in two weeks for the family Christmas dinner at her facility.
The next day, I got up early to the firehouse to help wash the truck as the Hasbrouck Heights Fire Department was participating in the Annual Holiday Parade in Hasbrouck Heights, NJ. Our Chamber of Commerce sponsors the parade and Christmas tree lighting every year on Thanksgiving weekend.
The Holiday Parade in Hasbrouck Heights, NJ is always a lot of fun. It gives all of us a chance to give back to the community as the procession of floats, decorated cars and organizations participate in the parade ending at the circle near the edge of town for the tree lighting ceremony.
Engine One in the Hasbrouck Heights Holiday Parade
Before the parade, all of us met up at the firehouse to wash and decorate the trucks and then stage by the Boulevard before the parade. I always enjoy watching the little kids in awe when the trucks pass by. It was cold the night of the parade so the crowds were thinner than previous years but still people looked like they were having a nice time. After the parade was over, everyone met at the circle for the tree lighting ceremony which got the usual ohhs and ahhs.
I had to be up early the next day as we had to unload 340 Christmas trees from the truck for the Annual Christmas tree sales for the Hasbrouck Heights Men’s Association. This is our organization’s largest fundraiser and it is our job to sell all those trees for our scholarship program. We must have set a new record for emptying the truck and by the end of the season for selling them (See Day One Hundred & Twenty Six).
It is something for me as next year I will be going on my twentieth year on the Hasbrouck Heights Men’s Association. I have seen the growth of the organization and the all the high school seniors that we have given a head start with our scholarship program. I can’t believe I have served on the Executive Board for four years now as Director (Sargent of Arms). It has been quite the journey.
The members of the Hasbrouck Heights Men’s Association setting up the trees.
This starts the holiday season in Hasbrouck Heights, NJ with the Boulevard decorated for the holidays, fantastic window displays by our town merchants and everyone excited that Santa was coming. The holiday season means holiday parties, tours of decorated mansions, hand writing Christmas cards and keeping everything in check. I went to a record thirteen Christmas parties and get togethers this year. I am the member so many organizations and with four jobs everyone wants to get together. I was a busy person this year.
Right after Thanksgiving Weekend with the endless activity and getting to work selling those trees, I had to go back to work and put my schedule together for the month of December.
My first weekend of December was busy with back to back activities with Sinterklaas Weekend ahead of me and the day after the Bergen County Firemen’s Home Association Christmas Party. This is always a busy weekend so I spend my weekend up in Rhinebeck at the Quality Inn (See review on TripAdvisor) while I run from one place to another. This was on top of the fact that my class would be presenting their final project for my Communications class the Monday I got back to work.
This was my sixth year participating in the parade. Rhinebeck, New York is a magical place at the holidays. The store windows are beautifully decorated with all sorts of merchandise that showcase the stores and the trees that line the downtown are layered with white lights that illuminate the downtown. Little wooden paintings line all the trees in the downtown area and garland accents a lot of buildings. It looks like a quaint little Christmas town straight out of a Currier & Ives print.
Downtown Rhinebeck, NY at Christmas
I help with the set up at 10:00am at the Starr Library every year. This year the theme was the Butterfly. (At the cocktail party fundraiser before Thanksgiving, the Sinterklaas community was introduced to the Butterfly King & Queen and were given the traditional blessing before the start of the Sinterklaas season.) The committee created Butterfly puppets for the parade that we put together that morning. As I unpacked the truck with the other volunteers, I could not believe how fast the year went. I kept asking myself how did this go so fast.
The same group of volunteers I have worked with for four years and we all worked in tandem with each other, emptying out the truck, unloading all the puppets and then putting them all together and stacking them against the library for the night of the parade. I have done this for so many years, I know how to put most of them together in my sleep. We were done in about two hours and then I was able to enjoy the rest of the days activities.
I have been volunteering in the parade now since 2010 and I can definitely tell you that the number of people has tripled over the past four years alone. After the Opening Ceremony at the Beekman Arms Hotel (I get a kick out of Mother Holly’s ‘feeling Jolly’ speech every year), I got a copy of the day’s activities and then snuck up to Red Hook, NY right up Route 9 to visit a few stores and restaurants on my bucket list for my blogs (you will find Little Pickles Children’s Store on ‘LittleShoponMainStreet’ and Village Pizza II on ‘DiningonaShoeStringinNYC’ on my WordPress.com blog sites). Red Hook’s downtown was decorated for their Christmas event the next weekend. As one gallery owner explained “everyone is in Rhinebeck for Sinterklaas, so the town is quiet”.
I was able to visit businesses for my blogs that had not been open the weekend I visited President Van Buren’s home in Kinderhook, NY (see the Van Buren Homestead on my VisitingaMuseum.com site) and revisit old ones. I wanted to get a better feel for their downtown. (Please don’t miss the pizza at Village Pizza III at 7514 North Broadway. Their slices are excellent).
By the time I got back to Rhinebeck at about 1:30pm, I could not find a parking spot. The town was mobbed with people and almost every block around the downtown was lined with cars. I had to park almost five blocks away.
The rest of the afternoon was full of concerts, performances by the dancing polar bear and the grumpuses and lively singing at the churches. All four churches in town had either singing groups or bands. Lining the Main Street of Rhinebeck were all sorts of local charities selling Christmas cookies, hot chocolate, hot dogs and other snacks. Most were almost empty when I got back as people were snacking as they walked the streets to get from one activity to another.
The Grumpus singing and dancing in Downtown Rhinebeck, NY
I decided to relax and not run around for the afternoon as I have seen most of the shows and acts that were on the roster and pinpointed how I wanted to spend the rest of the afternoon.
I first visited the Butterfly nest that was located in the courtyard. The artists are very creative on the Sinterklaas staff. They built entire Butterfly cocoon that you could walk through. There was music going on in and around the cocoon and when I exited, the grumpuses were starting to do one of their dances in the courtyard. They had the whole crowd laughing and clapping along.
My stop on the event was the ‘Into the Light’ show at the Church of the Messiah. I have seen this show over the years of coming to Sinterklaas and I swear, the girl who plays the main character has not changed in the last five years. She is just getting older.
‘Into the Light’ Show
I spent the rest of the afternoon at the United Methodist Church listening to the Brass bands. I got to hear the Funkrust Brass Band and The Second Line Brass Band. It was nice to just sit back and relax and listen to the music. I had been running around the town the who afternoon.
After the bands, it was time to get ready for the parade. So back up to the Starr Library and my position in the parade as part of the “Star Forest” of puppets. We lucked out again that night as the weather was mild and it was in the high 40′ that night.
As the excitement of the parade started and we made our way down the hill, I noticed immediately that the crowds had really grown this year. They were five deep at the parade route on both sides and everyone had their cellphones out to record the parade. With all the white lights on the trees, all the decorated windows in full light and all the Sinterklaas stars that lined the route, it was a beautiful and festive night when coming into town.
Me in the Parade in the ‘Star Forrest; by the Mother Earth Float
People got so excited to see “Sinterklaas” (the Dutch word for ‘Santa Claus’) and the various characters in the parade as ‘Mother Holly’, ‘The Pocket Lady’, ‘The Dancing Polar Bear and his trainer”, ‘The Butterfly King and Queen’, ‘The Grumpuses’ and ‘The Wild Women of Rhinebeck’ joined the brass bands, floats, puppets and singers, dancers, performers and animals who make the parade what is every year. It really is exciting to be part of this parade.
At the end of the parade route, we pass the stage with all the members of the Sinterklaas family to make our final goodbyes until next year and drop off the puppets. It was funny that the whole time I was walking in the parade I kept telling myself how fast the year had gone and I could not believe I was here again.
Watch me in the Sinterklaas Parade in the ‘Star Forrest’ on the right
I dropped off my puppet and went to watch the last of the parade before leaving for dinner. It was fun to watch the fire throwers perform at the end of the parade. It was a nice way to end the evening and after the performance was over, the crowds dispersed to go to dinner. Every restaurant in town was mobbed all evening.
I went to a barbecue restaurant that I had wanted to try for years, (See review on TripAdvisor). I had the buffet dinner ($20.00) that they had set up for the day and just ate. I had to admit as much as l liked the food, the waiter annoyed me when he charged me for the refills on the drinks (Noted in the review and in his tip).
As I walked back to my car, it started to mist and rain lightly. I did not realize how far I had packed away from town. I was four blocks away near the Duchess County Fairgrounds. That is how busy the town was that day. I just went back to the hotel and relaxed. I had an early trip the next morning.
The next morning after a big breakfast, it was off to the Boonton Firemen’s Home for the Bergen County Firemen’s Home Association Christmas Party for the residents that we throw every year. The facility was nicely decorated and we had some crowd that afternoon with all the residents present and their family members as well.
The band was a lot to be desired as they were off key most of the time and the lead singer could not sing a note. The place was really in the holiday spirit when member, Jerry Naylis and his family, who sing in their church choir and whose daughter in law sing opera, entertained the crowd. It really livened up the room and put us all in the holiday spirit. His little granddaughter stole the show when she sang ‘Jingle Bells’.
The Naylis Family entertaining the residents at the Firemen’s Home in Boonton, NJ
During the intermission we gave the residents their Christmas presents, monogrammed sweatshirts with their names on them, as a gift which I still see them wearing everytime we come to the home for events (See blog, BCFHA@Wordpress.com-Bergen County Firemen’s Home Association below).
The residents look forward to this party every year and were very touched by the gifts and the holiday thoughts. It was a fun time for all.
The members of the Bergen County Firemen’s Home Association with the residents in December 2018
After the party was over, the members of the Bergen County Firemen’s Home Association went to dinner at the Columbia Inn for our annual get together. We had a great time just catching up with one another and having a few laughs. The restaurants pizza is terrific too (See review on TripAdvisor).
With the weekend closing, it was back to work for me and another week of a round of holiday parties. First though, my students presented their project, “Bergecco-Park Consulting Inc. presents “Welcome Week 2019-Follow the Yellow Brick Road back to Bergen Community College”, their final exam project (See Day One Hundred & in ‘MywalkinManhattan.com’). The students gave a very professional presentation to a crowd of professors and administrators and members of the Athletic, Theater, Art, College Foundation, Alumni Association and Department of Special Services were on hand to view the presentation. It was well received by everyone and I could not have been prouder as a professor (please view that blog for the full project presentation).
Our logo for “Welcome Week 2019-Follow the Yellow Brick Road back to Bergen Community College”.
See the whole project presentation on my site, “MywalkinManhattan.com”
After I finally had the presentation behind me, it was a series of holiday parties one after another between the school, the fire department and various organizations that I am involved in (and that number is high). I joined the faculty at the college for our annual holiday get together, which was really nice. They had a full Thanksgiving dinner for us and a lot of holiday cheer. The Administration got up and wished us all a happy holiday season and good luck with the remainder of classes. It was nice to talk to the other professors who had come to the presentation. They gave me nice feedback at the party.
The next night it was off to the Engine One Christmas Party at Segovia’s in Moonachie. It was a nice evening with the guys, toasting the year and the successes that we had as a company (See The Brothers of Engine One HHFD-Blog on WordPress.com). It had been a busy year for us activity and project wise accomplishing both getting the bell fixed and chromed and getting the tee-shirts finally ordered and out to everyone. It was nice to catch up with everyone in a relaxed environment.
On Friday night was the annual Friends of Mills Mansion Holiday Cocktail party and fundraiser. Normally this is the night before Sinterklaas but it seemed that no one was in the holiday spirit on November 30th so they held it the week after.
Me at the Mills Mansion Holiday Party with members of the Friends Executive Board and dancers from the Isabel Duncan Dance company.
We had a really nice time. The event for the first time was sold out and the mansion was packed with well dressed people. The food was excellent and the servers did a nice job passing appetizers to all the guests. One of the local wineries was sampling one of their new sweet ice wines as well as a Chenin Blanc. It was a perfect dessert wine for the holidays.
The rooms were fully decorated for a Victorian Christmas and the Jazz band they had performing were excellent. They were engaging and people cleared the floor for impromptu dancing. It was nice to see people get up and dance again. It was nice to just sit back and catch up with other members I had met over the years and listen to the music. After that I took a quick tour of the rooms before heading back to the main room to hear the holiday greetings from the Executive Board.
The formal dining room at the Mills Mansion for Christmas
It was important that they sold out the event because the money will go to renovating both ceiling in the dining room and redoing the curtains that line the dining room windows. The mansion is slowly returning to its past glory and these events make this possible. The only problem was I was really tired after the event and it was a long ride home.
The weekend was coming up and there were two big events planned and I wanted to get enough rest to enjoy them. The first was on Saturday afternoon where I joined the Cornell Club as we we took a tour of the Ladies Shopping Mile and Gramercy Park with an event, the “Victorian Tour: Origin of Christmas Traditions” (See Day One Hundred & Twenty Eight). We literally walked this entire section of the City around Union and Gramercy Parks and walked up lower Sixth Avenue to visit the old department store buildings to know their history as part of the shopping area after the Civil War.
Ladies Shopping Mile on lower 6th Avenue
On Sunday was the dress rehearsal for the “Washington Crossing Reenactment” at Washington Crossing Historic Park. The event takes place every Christmas morning to remember when General Washington crossed the Delaware River and surprised the British. It was an interesting event that everyone should see once in life. It is very important to know how he crossed the river, in what type of boat and the conditions they were under that morning during a snow storm.
The Military Parade by the Delaware River
We started the morning with a Artillery Demonstration and then this lead to a Fife and Drum Parade in the historic village on the Pennsylvania side of the park. Then the troops had a Musket Firing Demo & Soldier’s Drill by the Delaware River. At noontime, the troops had their formation and the Reading of the Order of Battle.
See the parade of soldier’s before the Crossing December 2018
By 12:45pm when the troops made their trip, the event was narrated by Major General Walter Lord, U.S. Army (Retired). The troops had their parade movement and then they loaded the Durham boats, which were rebuilt for the event from the original designs that General Washington and the troops actually used.
The Washington Crossing Reenactment 2018
What I found interesting about the event was that they used the same boats as General Washington used and even in normal conditions, it was hard to maneuver these boats in the river. One of the boats even had problems had with the crossing and it took them extra time to cross and they had rescue boats off to the side in case the boats lost control, Imagine doing this during an ice storm riding in boats with chunks of ice coming at you in the water. What these men did to save our freedom is commendable.
The reenactments have been going on at this site since 1838 where it was discussed the importance of this historic event. The first attempt at a proper crossing was done in 1844 but the crowd was so rowdy and drunk that it marred the event. When they tried the event again in 1876, it was so cold and the exposure to the weather and too much alcohol consumption by the crowd marred the event again and it was noted not to attempt is again for another hundred years (History of Washington Crossing-Park).
As part of a pledge project in 1947, a group of Rider College students attempted the crossing again and it received national attention. In 1953, a half-scale Durham boat was built and a proper ‘authentic’ using the same boats as used that day of the crossing and it was successful. Over 700 people came to the event and since then it has become an annual tradition (Washington Crossing Park History).
It was a busy first half of the holiday season and just kept getting busier as the holiday got closer. Between work and outside activities, I just kept running.
Please read about the Victorian Walking Tour on Day One Hundred & Twenty Eight.
It took a long time to finish the Upper West Side with classes and work going on and the beginning of the holiday season. I started walking the streets between West 59th Street in early October when the weather was still warm and the trees were still green then somehow along the way the leaves turned a golden brown and I started to see cobwebs and pumpkins all over the place. By the time I was finished, these would be replaced by garland, holly, wreathes and pine trees. I had never seen a neighborhood transform so fast or was it just me revisiting so many times over the period of three months. The holidays just creeped up on me and then overwhelmed me.
The lower part of the Upper West Side is much different from the rest of this side of town. As noted in earlier blogs of the neighborhood, pretty much everything below West 69th Street was leveled to make way for the Lincoln Center complex and only buildings around Central Park West, historic churches and some pre-war ‘gems’ survived the wrecking ball. Everything east of Broadway seemed to survive the wrecking ball but that has continued to change.
This ‘clearance’ made way for the performing arts center, many branches of college campuses, a hospital, new residential housing and new schools. There are very few traces of the old neighborhood once you cross West 70th Street until you get to about West 58th Street where some of the older buildings survived. If it did not have historic value or a certain charm, it got knocked down in the way of progress.
The charm of the neighborhood continued from West 72nd Street to West 70th Street. These was the edges of the old Upper West Side that had survived the 60’s wrecking ball. West 72nd Street to me still represents the old New York with stores catering to the neighborhood residents and not to tourists. They are stores and restaurants for New Yorkers not New York places for tourists looking for a New York experience like walking around Times Square.
I started walking the streets of the Upper West Side from West 72nd Street to West 59th Street in early October and finishing a section here and a section there finishing closer to Thanksgiving. It was so weird to start this part of the walk when the trees still had green leaves on them to seeing Christmas decorations on the brownstone homes. Between work and the beginnings of the holidays and my hectic schedule it took a long time to see all the streets in the detail I wanted.
In the few months that I had been walking around, West 72nd Street has really started to change. I starting seeing a lot more scaffolding on the street and more restaurants opening and closing. I could not keep up the pace of the changes. Many older businesses started to close up shop due to the rent increases. All over the City rents that must have been negotiated in the mid to late 90’s were now coming due and business owners just can’t pay some of these rents. I am seeing more and more empty store fronts or restaurants replacing them with $20.00 hamburgers and $25.00 pasta dishes which are over-priced to the average person.
West 72nd Street is still worth the visit as they are many shops and restaurants that reasonably priced and are patronized by the neighborhood residents. There are many places that I like to revisit whenever I am in the neighborhood. As you round the corner onto West 72nd Street from Central Park West, you are greeted by the anchor of the neighborhood, the Dakota Apartments at 1 West 72nd Street, the famous home of John Lennon. During my time on the walk, there had been a memorial in the park on the date of his passing and many people were trying to take pictures there but the doorman are shooing people away. This is the private home to many people.
Walking down West 72nd is an array of well maintained apartment buildings and Coops but here and there on the street, there are still some pockets where you will find a brownstone here or there tucked into some corner of the street or look at the stone work on a apartment building.
Walking down West 72nd Street is a treasure trove of wonderful restaurants, interesting shops and historical architecture. It’s not just the Dakota and Olcott Apartments that are interesting. When looking up you notice so much. As you walk past the famous apartment buildings of Central Park West past Columbus Avenue, you pass an avenue of ever changing bars, restaurants and shops that continue to surprise residents and tourists alike.
One restaurant/bar I enjoy visiting is Malachy’s Donegal Inn at 103 West 72nd Street (See my reviews on TripAdvisor and Diningonashoestringinnyc@wordpress.com) just past Columbus Avenue. The bar has been there for years and a neighborhood staple for locals in the neighborhood. I had eaten here many times and I always felt like I was being watched, like people at the bar were trying to figure out whether I lived there or not. The food is really good. Their burgers, chicken fingers and hot turkey sandwiches ($8.95 each) are generous in size and their prices for food and drinks is very reasonable.It is a great place to sit back and talk to strangers about just about anything.
Just past Malachy’s is an unassuming store, Stationary & Toy World at 125 West 72nd Street (See my blog ‘LittleShoponMainStreet@wordpress.com) for a great selection of office supplies and toys for all ages.
Stationary & Toy World
The aisles are stacked top to bottom with popular games, crafts and building blocks while others with hard to find office supplies. Why order on Amazon when you can walk out your door and talk to people in the store who know their merchandise? It’s a throwback to a store in the 70’s that had it all. The people who work there are really nice and will help you find anything.
Verdi Square, part of the once infamous ‘Needle Park’ of the 70’s when this area got very run down has become a cornerstone of the this part of the neighborhood. There is no ‘Needle Park’ here anymore with fancy coffee vendors and musicians playing the park on a warm day. The park has been landscaped with flowers blooming each season and is a nice place to just relax and talk before taking the busy subway up or downtown.
What the neighborhood used to look like in the early 70’s
Just to tell you how much the neighborhood has changed there is a very popular Bloomingdale’s Outlet Store at 2085 Broadway with loads of merchandise from the popular chain and a 40 Carrots yogurt shop upstairs. You can get lost in the racks of clothing.
Just past Bloomingdale’s at 233 West 72nd Street is Westsider Records, another 70’s looking store for vinyl records and used books. If you are looking for the hard to find classics or for book or record that your mother threw out years ago, this is the store to start in. There is a wide variety of records here including original cast albums from musicals that I have not seen in years.
As you head down West 72nd Street, take a stop before arriving at West End Avenue and admire what is left of the old mansions that still peak out here and there on the street especially towards the very bottom of Riverside Park, when the neighborhood was an exclusive address. At the end of the block is Riverside Drive and the bottom of Riverside Park.
Across the street under all that scaffolding is The Chadsworth Apartment House that was designed in the late 1800’s (See Day One Hundred & Eight of MywalkinManhattan for full history of the apartment houses on West 72nd Street). Under all that piping if you look close, you can see the beauty and the detail work of the stone carvers. It will be something when the renovation is finished.
The beauty of The Chadsworth with the lower part of Riverside Park
Before crossing back, take a look at the Eleanor Roosevelt Monument at the corner of Riverside Drive and West 72nd Street. The statue is dedicated to the former First Lady and is a nice place to sit and relax on a warm day. I have seen this part of the park in all seasons since starting to walk this part of the neighborhood and the Spring is best when the first set of flowers starts to peek out.
Walking back down West 72nd Street on the other side of the road is West Side Cafe at 218 West 72nd Street, my go to place in the neighborhood for reasonable meals and snacks (See my TripAdvisor reviews and review on DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com). How I found this restaurant/deli was the sign that they had on the street with the prices of their meals and went in immediately for their pizza lunch special ($5.00). The pizza there is amazing as is all of their food and seems to be the place all the cabbies and doormen eat at as well. Large portions of well made food at a reasonable price.
If you are still hungry from all the walking, another place I like to stop for a snack is Gray’s Papaya at 2090 Broadway right across from the subway station. Their hot dogs are the best and since they are grilled, they snap when you bit into them (See review on TripAdvisor and DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com).
The one thing I like about West 72nd Street on the West Side is that there is something for everyone from the fancy dining establishments heading toward Central Park West to the more reasonable hole in the wall restaurants that dot the street and those hidden stores stacked high with merchandise, this street was created for the New York customer and has not given into the tourists yet.
Rounding the corner of Central Park West, this trip around the neighborhood took so much time that I saw the four seasons occur in the park. Fall is most distinct with the colorful leaves with a touch of still warm weather. Morning or night, the park is always busy.
West 71st Street has a more residential feel to it and between the park and Broadway is lined with impressive brownstones and apartment buildings. Facing Central Park is the Majestic Apartments, which opened right before the stock market crash of 1929. The apartment building is an interesting example of Modern American Art Deco architecture and was considered quite innovative when it opened. The building was built by the firm of Chanin Construction Company by Irwin Chanin (StreetEasy 2019).
Take time to look at the buildings design from the other side of Central Park West. Its elegant design is in contrast to the more Victorian look of the Dakota right across the street. Just don’t stare too long or the building doormen will give you a funny look.
The Dakota Apartments
The beautiful row of brownstones and small apartment buildings on West 71st Street were decorated at all times of the holiday season. When I started the walk in early October with the leaves still green on the trees, people were preparing for the Halloween and the coming of the Fall. As I finished the walk, many people were putting up trees, garland and lights. With the care of these brownstones and their decorations, especially at night, made it look like a true neighborhood.
Further down West 71st Street is the Church of the Blessed Sacrament at 152 West 71st Street which was built in 1917. The first church was built in 1887 near West 72nd Street and the second church was built in 1900 on the site of the current church. This church was built by architect Gustav Steinbach, a Columbia graduate, who modeled it after a much smaller 14th century French Gothic Sainte Chapelle in Parish (Church History).
The church has a very engaging sermon and mass and if you are in the area during that time, take the time out to stay and enjoy it. It was a small crowd that afternoon that I was there but I only stayed for a short period of time. It would be nice to hear the whole mass sometime.
Once you reach Sherman Square, you will see the artist Kathy Ruttenberg’s statue, ‘In Sync’ which is part of her open air exhibition with the NYC Arts, ‘In Dreams Awake: Kathy Ruttenberg on Broadway exhibition (one of her other statues, ‘All the World’s a Stage’ is located in the neighborhood on West 64th near Lincoln Center). Take time to look at this interesting twist of nature by the Woodstock, NY based artist. She has four other statues up and down Broadway which means revisited the Upper West Side above West 84th Street.
‘In Sync’ By Kathy Ruttenberg
“All the World’s a Stage” by Kathy Ruttenberg
I have to say one thing is that she is very creative and looks at nature and art in an extremely unusual fashion. Her work takes on a different meaning showing nature in human form. The funny part is that the whole time I was looking over the statue everyone else just bumped into me passing it. No one stopped to look at the deer-man and tree walking in tandem like it was something you saw every day in New York City.
Two of my favorite and reasonable places to eat in this part of the Upper West Side are located right across the street on Broadway. The McDonald’s at 2049 Broadway and Little Italy Pizza at 2047 Broadway (see reviews on TripAdvisor and DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@wordpress.com).
The McDonald’s is one of the better ones in the City for food quality and cleanliness. I have many lunches and dinners here and it is fun to order a Sausage McMuffin and Egg and a cheeseburger at 9:00pm. When the weather was really hot at the beginning walk of this neighborhood I came here for one of their frozen lemonades.
Little Italy Pizza is one of the best places for slices in the City as their pizza actually has some flavor to it. When you have a slice ($2.95) here it is a decent sized piece of pizza and the sauce is nicely spiced. Their calzones are excellent ($6.50). They are almost the size of a small pizza and are loaded with ricotta and mozzarella cheese. Their marinara sauce is delicious and well spiced. If you have one for lunch, you will need no dinner. The service here is quick and the pizza makers are in a rush all the time so take your order and wait to be called.
As you continue down West 71st Street towards West End Avenue, there is a little slice of oasis in Septuagesimo Uno Park between Broadway and West End Avenue. The park was created in 1969 as part of Mayor Wagner’s ‘Vest Park Program’ to take vacant lots in neighborhoods at the time and turn them into a ‘small oasis’ for the neighborhood. The park was part of an effort between the Mayor, the NYC Parks and neighborhood groups who wanted to beautify the neighborhood. It is beautifully landscaped and in season you can see the flowers and scrubs in full bloom. The only problem that I found with visiting the park is that the gate is always locked. Every time I wanted to visit, there was no one there.
As you walk to the end of the block, you will see the transition in the street from where it used to stop at the back of the Chadsworth Apartments and the new Heritage at Trump Place Apartment Building. This leads back to the extension of West 72nd Street and the new Riverside Boulevard. This is where you see old and new mix in both architecture and parks. When you reach Riverside Boulevard you will see all the new buildings that I described when walking the Avenues. It shows the ingenuity of the city planners of reclaiming land and redesigning the City into the 21st Century.
As you head back down West 71st Street, really look up and admire some of the architecture and details on the buildings along the street. Once you pass West End Avenue, look at the details of 260-266 West 71st Street with their large staircases and the elegance of the clean lines on these brownstones. These brownstones were built in 1899 and were to have a look ‘different from one another’ (NY Times Real Estate).
269 West 71st Street
Lots of care has been taken to restore them to their glory and when the weather was warmer, were decorated outside with potted plants.
Move on to the brownstones from 248-250 West 71st Street that are across the street to see their details. These were build in 1892 and look up to see the weird faces staring back at you. Further down the street, sitting like a Grand Dame of the neighborhood and not part of the Moses chopping block is The Dorilton Apartments at 171 West 71st Street that were built in 1902. These were built at a time architects were trying to lure people off Fifth Avenue and onto Broadway which was modeled after a French Boulevard.
The Dorilton Apartments
Heading back to Central Park West is the brownstones of 35-39 West 71st Street with their elegant staircases, curved windows and their lion keystones staring back at you. These brownstones were built in 1900 and show a grace and elegance of ‘Old New York’.
35-39 West 71st Street
I found West 71st Street offers a lot in beautiful small parks, gorgeous architecture, wonderful restaurants and interesting shops. The people here must really love it.
I rounded Central Park West again looking at the Central Park as it transitioned seasons during the walk and walked onto West 70th Street. This is where the neighborhood starts to change. Up to Columbus Avenue, you see the older part of the neighborhood that survived the wrecking ball and past Broadway is all new construction.
I traveled down West 70th Street to Riverside Boulevard and it is amazing how in just one block a neighborhood can change. You see how ‘urban renewal’ can change the character of a neighborhood.
Still there is a beauty to many buildings on the block. It may not have all the charismatic brownstones as West 71st Street but still here and there are buildings that stand out and you take notice of when walking around. At 135 West 70th Street there is a building that has an Egyptian style motif that decorates the entire frontage.
The Pythian was designed by architect Thomas Lamb and was built in 1926 for the Knights of the Pythians, who were a fraternal order founded in 1864. The building was constructed of buff brick and terra cotta. The outside decorations of the building are designed in ‘Egyptian Revival Art Deco’ and are some of the best examples of the use of polycrome terra cotta in the City. The building was converted to condos in 1983. Really look up and admire the details of ancient Gods and Goddesses, mythical animals and artwork that looks like the outside of an ancient temple. Admire the orb that sits atop the entrance with the Goddess Isis stand guard (StreetScapes & Wiki).
The Pythian at 135 West 70th Street
I stopped by P.S. 199 as they were letting out of school and it was sea of children and parents for the next hour. Next to the school is Matthew P. Sapolin Park, which is a great place to visit on a hot day. There are really nice public bathrooms that come in handy after a long walk and benches under shade trees to relax on. The parents are so busy watching their kids and the other parents no one noticed me walk in the many times I visited here. This was my go to place for the bathroom and to relax when walking this section of the neighborhood and they keep the park up really nicely.
The former Playground 70 was renamed in 2011 to Matthew P. Sapolin Park after the former Commission of the Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities, who died of cancer in 2011. The park is fitted for children with disabilities with a children’s garden, a basketball court with backstops for children in wheel chairs and picnic table seating low enough to allow for disability access (NYCParks.com).
Matthew P. Sapolin has a very interesting life before dying at age 41. He had been mainstreamed in school on Long Island, was a drummer in a band he formed and the Co-Captain of his wrestling team at NYU. Many people had commented that he was an inspiration for many people who never let a disability define them and it is fitting that such a park available to so many be named after him (NY Obituary).
Walking back from a relaxing break at the park, I walked back to towards Central Park West. Tucked away near Columbus Avenue is an interesting little antique jewelry store called Icon Style by Lara Kornbluh at 104 West 70th Street (See review on LittleShoponMainStreet@Wordpress.com). Do not miss this interesting little shop refitted in a turn of the last century pharmacy, if you like vintage and antique fine and costume jewelry.
It has some of the most unusual pieces in the shapes of animals and sunburst. I got to meet the owner, artist Lara Kornbluh, whose work had been shown in galleries in the 90’s. She had gotten interested in jewelry as a side business while working as an artist to make extra money. Her creativity as an artist shows in the one of kind selections she has bought for the store. No two pieces look alike. For jewelry lovers, it should not be missed.
Icon by Lara Kronbluh
After a long day in Soup Kitchen and walking all of West 72nd to West 70th Streets and rounding onto West 69th Street, I had had it. I wanted to relax and decided to end this part of the evening at the New York Historical Society at 170 Central Park West. I had not visited the museum in a long time and wanted to look around some of the exhibitions. What is nice about the museum is that on a Friday night it is ‘pay what you want’ and since I was broke, I just paid $5.00.
It was an busy evening for the museum with the ‘Harry Potter’ exhibition going on. I bypassed that and went upstairs to see the ‘Billy Jean King’ exhibition on her career as a tennis player, philanthropist and activist. I also got to see the permanent collection of objects in the collection. What was nice about that was I had the galleries pretty much to myself. I stayed until the museum closed at 8:00pm. I stopped for a quick snack on Broadway and then headed home. There would be more to see for another day.
My next trip to the neighborhood started at the Soup Kitchen again. Why I exhaust myself and walk the rest of the afternoon amazes even me. I have no idea where I get my energy from. I worked the busy bread station and after my four hour shift was over, I walked from 28th and Ninth Avenue to Harriet’s Kitchen (see review on TripAdvisor) at 502 Amsterdam Avenue, a small southern hole in the wall restaurant for lunch.
I had visited Harriet’s before and wanted to try more entrees on their menu. I had a chicken pot pie with mashed potatoes for lunch ($12.95 plus $4.95 for the potatoes and gravy) which was the perfect lunch on a cool day and the calories would support an afternoon of walking around the neighborhood. Don’t miss this rich gravy loaded pie loaded with fresh white chicken.
After a full lunch, I walked down Central Park West tracing the park side. I really looked at the park as the joggers and walkers entered and wondered when I missed the leaves changing colors. It was the middle of October and the pumpkin decorations and mums started to appear on steps and porches of the brownstone blocks of the Upper West Side.
As I walked onto West 69th Street, I was greeted by a juxtaposed of brownstone and small apartment house styles between Central Park West and Columbus Avenue. The shopping area around Columbus Avenue has not changed much over the years but the stores are constantly in transition. In the three months that I visited and walked the neighborhood I had never seen so many restaurants change hands and even watched a few open and close while I was there. The rents must be skyrocketing in the neighborhood as the twenty and ten year leases that were negotiated after the last recession have given way to market rates. Again, I don’t think the Upper West Side needs another restaurant that serves a $20.00 hamburger.
One of the most beautiful and quintessential blocks of the neighborhood is West 69th Street from Columbus to Amsterdam Avenues. This row of brownstones on both sides is met in the middle by Christ & St. Stephens Church at 120 West 69th Street. This cute little church has a garden just a few steps up from the side walk with benches to relax on. When I was visited earlier in the month, I just saw the last of the flowers in bloom and the leaves change colors. The brownstones across the street were decorated with colorful pumpkins and potted plants and the whole effect was out of a movie. It is what you would think all of New York City should look like or probably did at one time.
129-135 West 69th Street
Take time to admire the brownstones from at 129-135 West 69th Street with the unique carvings, beautiful details and their curving stairs. Decorated for both Halloween and Christmas when I walked the neighborhood, this is truly picturesque.
Once you cross Broadway, you see where the changes of the 60’s come in and the neighborhood has given way to modern construction. Between Amsterdam and Broadway you will begin to see the final buildings as part of the Lincoln Center complex of buildings of schools, theaters and offices which leads to the modern apartment complex of Lincoln Towers that continues from West 69th Street to West 66th Street. They are not so keen about letting people walk around the grounds so I snuck in carefully and did not walk around where I wasn’t supposed.
Along West End Avenue to Freedom Place is the same. Lincoln Towers, a modern apartment complex stretches from West 70th Street to West 66th and there are guards all over the place at each entrance to the complex. It is mostly paths leading the the apartments. Between Freedom Place and Riverside Boulevard are all the sparkling new apartment buildings that line the extension of Riverside Park. This new modern look to the city stretches on the West Side from West 70th Street to West 59th where some new buildings are behind fencing waiting to appear this Summer.
The is the Riverside Park skyline
So to complete this part of the walk and it was such a nice day when I did it, I made a right turn up Amsterdam Avenue from West 69th Street and walked up to West 70th Street and walked the entire length around the Lincoln Towers Complex to West 66th Street and then back to see some of the garden and paths of the complex that I could see with the guards looking me over and then back around.
When I finished that, I made the turn once I returned to West 66th Street and West End Avenue and walked to Riverside Boulevard and re-walked all the side streets between West 66th to West 70th Streets between the park and Freedom Place and looked at all the new construction again. This part of the neighborhood is dissected from the rest of the Upper West Side and is almost its own self-contained neighborhood similar to Battery Park City. It has its own shops, stores and schools. It faces a beautiful sparkling new park where the sod had just been laid that Summer and it was in full use when I was there (See Days One Hundred and Twenty One and Two).
I crossed back over the street at West 70th and continued to walk down past this extensive neighborhood and in the corner of Freedom Place and West 70th Street saw the Freedom Place marker from the Freedom Summer of June 21, 1964 when volunteers went to Mississippi to register Black voters. The plaque was dedicated to the three volunteers who were killed, Andrew Goodman, Michael Schwerner and James Chaney. They had been ambushed and killed that evening. A very somber plaque for such an interesting block of luxury housing.
I made the turn again and back down the other side of West 69th I went. Once you past Broadway, you pass from new to old again and it is the other side of the brownstone row until you get to Central Park West. When you turn the corner again at West 68th Street, you are pretty much looking at what is left of the old Upper West Side between Central Park West and Columbus Avenue. After that the rest of the neighborhood is new construction especially around the boundaries of Broadway which is loaded with chain businesses.
West 67th Street is almost the same as the area contains many new buildings between Central Park West and Columbus Avenue. Here you start to see more of the buildings that are part of Lincoln Center just to the south or are part of the commercial district that has developed over the last twenty five years. When you turn the corner again from Central Park West to West 66th Street, you see the neighborhood streetscape change again with differences in the buildings from Central Park to Riverside Park.
West 66th Street takes you right back over to Riverside Park and then back to Central Park as I stopped in the park to relax. It has a wonderful view of New Jersey of the cliffs facing the Hudson River. On a warm Summer day you have a choice of things to do in the park, admiring the artwork, walking, jogging or just lying by the grass.
A tiny triangle of grass greets you right across the street from Lincoln Center in the former Empire North Park now dubbed “Richard Tucker Park”. This little park like its counterpart Verdi Square further uptown not only serves as a subway entrance but in the warmer months has a very popular Farmers Market, waffle stand and bookseller. Its a pleasant park to sit in the Summer and watch the world go by.
Richard Tucker had started off as a Cantor who in 1945 made his operatic debut with the Metropolitan Opera, where he stayed on with the company until his passing in 1975. The bust of him by artist Milton Hebald that graces the park was donated to the park system by his wife, Sarah, in 1975.
Richard Tucker, the Opera Singer
West 65th Street brings you to the heart of Lincoln Center. This is also where the neighborhood has its extremes. On one side of Amsterdam Avenue is Lincoln Center and on the other is the Amsterdam Houses. Still the neighborhood houses some of the best schools in the country. Julliard is housed between Broadway and Amsterdam Avenue as well as the Fiorella H. La Guardia School of the Performing Arts, two of the nation’s finest performing arts schools in the US.
Making the rounds back to Central Park and back in to the heart of the neighborhood, you will walk through Lincoln Center with all it’s beauty and glory. It really is a stellar site with its fountains and walkways and art. In the evening after a performance, I have always enjoyed just sitting by the fountain in the middle of the theaters and just watched people walk by either afternoons or evenings. It brings back many memories of performances past.
The Lincoln Center complex stretches from West 65th to West 62nd Streets from Columbus to Amsterdam Avenue so it takes some time to walk the whole complex and admire the gardens and statuary.
I had an interesting walk behind Lincoln Center once I crossed Amsterdam Avenue into the Amsterdam Houses, which are currently under scaffolding and being renovated. The Amsterdam Houses stretch from West 64th to West 61st from Amsterdam to West End Avenues. It is an interesting set of paths to walk through all the scaffolding. With my progressive glasses and dark jacket, I made most of the construction guys and residents a little nervous. I had a glass thrown from a third floor window at me, security guards look the other direction when I walked by and watched a few construction guys get nervous. It just seems out of the place with the rest of the neighborhood.
One bright spot of the complex is the Samuel N. Bennerson 2nd Playground located toward the back of the complex which has recently been renovated. It has new swings and a plastic climbing complex. The few afternoons that I entered the park, the kids seemed well-behaved but there were a lot of adults there talking.
Samuel N. Bennerson 2nd was a local resident and activist, who was a third generation member of the ‘San Juan Hill’ community who served as a mentor to children in the neighborhood and a sports coach.
I continued by walk down West 64th Street and walk all around the Amsterdam Housing Complex which made me very popular with the construction crew who seemed to step of the pace everytime they saw me walking through taking notes. I walked down and around West 61st Street and covered all the area from West 59th Street to West 64th Street from Riverside Boulevard to Amsterdam Avenue. Amsterdam Houses are really an island on to themselves with the Lincoln Center complex to the east and the luxury apartments by Riverside Park South to the west.
As you head around West 59th and 60th Streets past Amsterdam Avenue you will see the John Jay College and Fordham College campuses just south of Lincoln Center. These and Mt. Sinai Hospital pretty dominate the very bottom of the Upper West Side.
There are two stand out buildings that you should not miss admiring on West 59th Street, the IRT Powerhouse between West End Avenue and the Henry Hudson Parkway and West 59th and 58th Streets. This historic building was built in 1904 by architect Stanford White for the Interborough Rapid Transit Company and is designed in ‘Renaissance Revival’ and was part of the City Beautiful Movement (Wiki). Note all the beautiful carvings and decor at the sides of the building.
IRT Building on West 59th Street
The other building not to miss is the Williams J. Syms Operating Theater at 338 West 59th Street right behind the Time-Warner Complex. It was built in 1892 as a medical hospital and is the last remaining piece of the old Roosevelt Hospital. Made with marble and mosaic floors as not to harbor bacteria, it was considered state of the art when it opened. It is now being renovated for a school.
William J. Syms Medical Theater
From West 59th Street, I walked around the back of the Columbus Circle complex and walked up Columbus Avenue back to West 64th Street and continued the walk back to Central Park West. Here you see the sparkling new Time-Warner complex with its luxury stores, hotels and restaurants. This has set the tone for the transformation of the Upper West Side.
Making the walk back onto West 63rd Street, I walked again through the Lincoln Center Complex again and then through the Amsterdam Houses again just to rile the builders who by this point just ignored me. Towards the end of the block between West 63rd and 64th Streets and West End Avenue and Freedom Place there is another really nice park to relax in that does not have a formal name by the Parks system. It has a nice playground in the front and paths with benches to the back which is the perfect place to relax on a hot day. This park is always busy with kids.
Walking back to the commercial district of Columbus Avenue and right across from Lincoln Center is Dante Park, which in the summer is busy with vendors and book sellers and at the holidays has the most beautiful Christmas tree with an even nicer holiday event. Dante Park was originally part of Empire Park to the north but was renamed in 1921 for the Italian poet Dante Alighieri. There is a statue of him facing the park by artist Ettore Ximemes (Wiki).
Dante Park at Christmas
When walking back to West 63rd to Central Park and then back to Columbus Avenue the areas between West 62nd, 61st and 60th Streets are lined with commercial buildings, hotels and apartment buildings. The Empire Hotel which faces Dante Park and is always busy on theater night in its restaurants was built in 1923 by owner Herbert DePuy.
The last part of my walk that evening was exploring the artwork at Lincoln Center. As I looked over the signs for upcoming shows and watched the holiday decorations being placed on the inside of the opera house, I admired pieces of art tucked here and there in the complex. There was artist Henry Moore’s ‘Working Model for Reclining Figure’ in one part and Alexander Caulder’s “Le Guichet” that stand out. In all my times at the theater, I never noticed these two pieces of outdoor art. Taking time to walk around and needing to sit down you do notice them.
Henry Moore’s “Working Model for Reclining Figure” at Lincoln Center
Henry Moore was a English artist who had graduated from the Royal College of Art in London and Leeds School of Art. He was known for his semi-abstract figures and his work in bronze. This work, “Working for Reclining Figure” was installed in 1965 and has been thought to be human figure in a reclining state. One piece represents that head and the torso and the other the figures legs. You really have to walk around the piece to figure it out (Wiki).
Alexander Calder’s “Le Guichet”
Alexander Calder is an American artist who graduated from the Stephens Institute of Technology. He was known for his abstract mobiles with some known of the themes of the cosmos and nature (Wiki). The work, “Le Guichet” (the ticket window) was installed in Lincoln Center in 1963. Some say it represents a irregularly shaped hand reaching through a window.
My last night walking the streets of the Upper West Side was also the beginning of the holiday season. It had been a long day at the Soup Kitchen working the Social Services area and I just wanted to get out of there.
I walked back up Columbus Avenue to look at the store windows and took a short cut through West 69th Street between Columbus and Broadway again to look at all the lights along the brownstones again. People really decorated their homes with lights, garlands and trees. At nightfall, this is what New York is all about. The simple decorations that make the City so special.
I ended my evening with dinner at the West Side Cafe again at 218 West 72nd Street. I just needed a couple of slices of pizza and remembered how much I enjoyed it. I am beginning to feel like a regular here.
So here on the Upper West Side is a wonderful mixture of architecture, unusual art by interesting artists, great hole in the wall restaurants and a great mix of retail. Here and there a real ‘gem’ pops out but at the end of the day it is a great neighborhood to take a long walk in.