One of the nicest events we have as members of the Cornell Club is the walking tours that the club offers during the year. It really does give you an interesting perspective of New York City. I have toured the historic bars and saloons of Lower Manhattan, walked through historic Midtown Manhattan for a Victorian Christmas through the Ladies Shopping Mile, walked through the haunted historic sites of lower Manhattan and toured Chinatown through some of its oldest buildings and then lunch at a local restaurant. I even got to sit next to the gentleman who helped the President of Bloomingdale’s organize the big “China at Bloomingdales” exhibition. Now that was interesting.
The latest tour I went on was the “Secrets of Grand Central Station” tour on a recent Saturday. A group of about 25 of us met at the club to tour Grand Central Station and learn about various points of the history of the building. The tour guide was over an hour late so everyone on the tour got to know one another before we left the club.
When the tour guide arrived, we took the two block walk to the club and started at the staircases as you enter the building at Vanderbilt Avenue.
The Grand Central Terminal is right around the corner from the club
The terminal was not that busy that Saturday morning and we were still able to walk around with no problems. We started the tour at the top of the stairs leading into the Great Hall of Grand Central Station. We were able to admire the room from a distance and all the activity that train travel brings.
As the tour guide explained, Grand Central Terminal was meant to impress a visitor when they arrived into New York City from wherever they were traveling from. You entered the room to see the elegance and vibrancy of Manhattan.
Though splendid in its day, the original Grand Central Depot of 1871 had become a 19th century relic struggling to meet the demands of a 20th century city. Its 30-year-old rail tunnels couldn’t handle the steadily increasing traffic. The building lacked modern conveniences and signaling technology, as well as the infrastructure for electric rail lines. And having been designed for three independent railroad companies—with three separate waiting rooms—the terminal was badly outdated, crowded, and inefficient.
On top of that, the old station no longer reflected its surroundings. In 1870, 42nd Street was still a relative backwater. By 1910, it was the vibrant heart of a dynamic, ambitious, and swiftly growing New York City (Grand Central Terminal History).
The new Grand Central Terminal was built between 1903-13 and opened in 1913. This beautiful rail station was designed New York Central Vice-President William J. Wilgus and the interiors and some exteriors by architects Reed & Stem and Warren & Wetmore in the Beaux Arts design. The exterior façade of building including the famous “Glory of Commerce” were designed by French artists and architects Jules Felix Coutan, Sylvain Salieres and Paul Cesar Helleu (Wiki).
Grand Central Terminal Great Hall
The architects brought in Parisian artist Sylvain Saliéres to craft bronze and stone carvings, including ornamental inscriptions, decorative flourishes, and sculpted oak leaves and acorns (symbols of the Vanderbilt family.) Playful carved acorns festoon the Main Waiting Room’s chandeliers. The architects specified Tennessee marble for the floors, Botticino marble for wall trim, and imitation Caen stone for the walls (History of Grand Central).
The Great Hall of Grand Central Terminal right before COVID 2020
The view of the Great Hall from the stairs at the Vanderbilt entrance
The Landmarks Preservation Commission protected Grand Central from demolition, but the dilapidated terminal was still ailing. Restoring its former glory required an owner that recognized the station’s beauty and potential, craftsmen able to renovate its battered décor, and strong public support. It also required money. In 1982, Metro-North took over the terminal—now primarily a commuter hub—and launched a four-year, $12 million repair program that stopped further deterioration but didn’t erase decades of decay (Grand Central Terminal History).
In 1990, Metro-North announced ambitious plans to restore the station’s structural, architectural, and decorative glory. Peter E. Stangl, Metro-North’s first president and later Chairman of the MTA, led these efforts. Metro-North’s vision went far beyond simply refurbishing the building. Its master plan reimagined Grand Central as a vibrant shopping and dining destination, reclaiming its role as New York’s town square (Grand Central Terminal History).
The windows and the ceilings of the Great Hall
All the art on the window arches is dedicated to travel. The friezes were dedicated to travel, motion and speed. The theme of the sculptures was travel. The sculptures were designed by Sylvain Salières, who designed many other decorations around the terminal.
Artist Sylvain Salieres was born in France. He studied at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts, Paris. He taught at Carnegie Institute as a Professor of Art.
The interior of the building is just as spectacular. When you walk into the building and stare from the top of the stairs, you see the power and bustle of New York City. When you look up you will see the famous ‘Constellation’ ceiling cleaned and lit with all the stars in the sky. There is still a small portion of the ceiling that was not cleaned to show how dirty it once was before the renovation.
The ceiling of the Great hall shows all the constellations
The ceiling had been designed with the help of a professor from Columbia University who taught astrology. The tour guide told us it was after the completion of the ceiling that the constellations were upside down and backwards (which was also noted in the video as well). Still you can see its magnificence in the details and the fact that it is lit up with lightbulbs to represent the stars.
The dirt on the ceiling
This small spot left in the ceiling in the corner was what was left after they finished cleaning the ceiling and renovating the rest of the terminal in the early 1990’s. Both the tour guide and the video said that this was from years of allowing smoking in the terminal. That was banned in the late 1980’s and early 90’s by both the Giuliani and Bloomberg Administrations.
The windows of the Great Hall which have walkways going across balconies
The tour guide explained to us that the windows were also skyways where people could walk across them. I did not believe it until I looked up and actually saw people walking across the windows. They are actually skylights that are double paned and there are three levels of walkways for people who work in the building to walk across.
The tile ceilings of the “hallways”Whispering Hall” of Grand Hall
In all the years I have been visiting Grand Central Terminal the “Whispering Hall” was the most fascinating part of the tour. You can stand on one side of the hall and hear someone talking on the other side of the room. It was fun testing it out and it really does work.
This remarkable acoustic oddity is caused by the unusually perfect arches, which are a version of Catalan vaults, that compose the gallery. The distinctive tile work in the gallery is known as “Guastavino” tiles, named for the patented material and methods of Spanish tile worker Rafael Guastavino in 1892, whose meticulous work and herringbone patterns can be admired here and elsewhere in the city (Atlas Obscura/Wiki).
The Grand Central Oyster Bar Restaurant inside the main terminal
The Grand Central Oyster Bar was closed that day but is one of the oldest restaurants in the city and was located there for the commuters who came and went from the terminal. It has been there since the beginning.
The chandeliers of Vanderbilt Hall make quite a statement. These were created to show off the new modern technology of electricity which was new back in 1913 when they were installed. The modern light bulb replaced gas lamps and candles of an earlier era. The Vanderbilts wanted to show how progressive they were with the railroads so these were created to dazzle the modern train rider.
The first part of the use electricity with these chandeliers
The vaults and chandeliers on the side of the Great Hall
A combination of soaring ceilings and modern lighting were to show the progress of the rail system and to dazzle customers as they came into New York City. These halls were meant to impress travelers when they entered this part of the Terminal.
The Vanderbilt’s wanted travelers to know that Grand Central Terminal was electrified which was unusual at the time when the building was built. This was very important as they wanted travelers to know that they were in the modern age of travel.
Next we toured the Graybar Passage Way which is part of the Graybar building that is part of Grand Central Terminal. The tour guide noted the very decorative chandeliers that lined the passageway.
The Graybar Passageway of Grand Central
The details of the chandelier in the Graybar Passageway
The mural on the ceiling
The tour guide and the video you can listen to below both explained that this mural was part of the original terminal from 1913. The mural is a bit faded and I had walked these hallways before and never noticed it. It is a depiction of train transportation. The video said that at the time murals should represent what the building was all about (Grand Central Terminal Video). I thought that was very interesting. It is very easy to miss.
The Food Court
We took a quick tour of the Food Court area in the lower level and some people had to go to the bathrooms. This is one of the many money making parts of the terminal and the profits help with the continuous renovation and upkeep of Grand Central Terminal. Since COVID, this are is still not at 100% of what it was pre-COVID but is still slowly making its way back. It has a lot of popular restaurants that are convenient to commuters, tourists and office workers alike.
The Food Court like most of the retail spots in the Terminal was created to bring in income for the renovation and upkeep of the Terminal. We headed back up the ramps to the main room and headed up the ramp and out the door. We stopped first in the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Foyer. This was dedicated to the former First Lady.
The Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Foyer leading to East 42nd Street
Notice the lamp in the shape of an acorn. This was part of the Vanderbilt coat of arms. The coat of arms symbolized “from an acorn a mighty oak will grow”.
This entrance way was dedicated to Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis who with members of the Municipal Art Society and the City helped save this treasured building. With the recent destruction of Penn Station, the former First Lady lent her celebrity to helping save and preserve Grand Central Terminal.
Jackie Kennedy Onassis with Bess Myerson and Ed Koch in front of Grand Central (The Attic 2020) trying to save this landmark
Grand Central was symbolic of old Manhattan, a city her grandfather, James T. Lee, had helped build (highlights include 740 Park Avenue). Onassis also cared about historic preservation, having restored the White House to its former glory and saved Washington’s Lafayette Square from being replaced by ugly government office buildings in the early 1960s (Bloomberg 2013).
She was the star of a press conference in Grand Central’s Oyster Bar. “If we don’t care about our past we can’t have very much hope for our future,” she said into a bank of microphones over the din of flashbulbs popping. “We’ve all heard that it’s too late, or that it has to happen, that it’s inevitable. But I don’t think that’s true. Because I think if there is a great effort, even if it’s the eleventh hour, then you can succeed and I know that’s what we’ll do.” (Bloomberg 2013).
Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Plaque in the foyer
This entrance was dedicated to her for all her work in preserving the building for future generations.
When we walked outside, the tour guide pointed at the grill work that surrounds the building. I never really thought of it because I had never looked at it before. All over the grill work is tiny acorns and leaves, the Vanderbilt coat of arms that was created by Alice Vanderbilt. They were all in the details of the grill work. This was a symbol of the Vanderbilt’s influence at that time.
The Grill Work on the outside of Grand Central Terminal
The Acorn Coat of Arms of the Vanderbilt family
Acorns and Oak Leaves are all over the Terminal as a symbol of the Vanderbilt family and the lasting of the family business. Within one generation the railroads and the family fortune would be gone.
The Statue of Mercury and the famous Grand Central clock “The Glory of Commerce”
There is a true beauty to the statuary and stone carvings on the outside of the building. Each of these were done by different artists. Some of the statuary was taken from the original railroad terminal such as the statue of Commodore Vanderbilt and the Eagle statues on both side of the front of Grand Central Terminal.
The Commodore Vanderbilt Statue
The statue was designed by artist Ernst Plassman a German born American artist who moved to New York in 1853. The artist studied under many famous artists in Europe before founding the “Plassman’s School of Art” in New York City in 1854.
The Eagle statues were taken from the previous terminal.
They are two of the 11 or 12 eagle statues that ornamented the terminal’s predecessor, Grand Central Station. In 1910, when the station was demolished to build Grand Central Terminal, the eagles were dispersed throughout the city and New York State (Wiki). These two statues now are located on both sides of the Terminal. This eagle was returned to the Terminal in 2004.
The Eagle Statue on the outside of the front of the Terminal
The Vanderbilt Eagle plaque in the Vanderbilt Plaza
The terminal housed the New York Central Railroad and some of the busiest routes. It now houses the New Haven, White Plains and Poughkeepsie lines and stop overs for some Amtrak lines. In 2020, it was house the new lines of the Long Island Railroad.
The new Grand Central Madison Avenue Concourse:
The Grand Central Madison Avenue is a brand new terminal that is situated deep underneath Manhattan’s East Side. In the next few months, 296 LIRR trains per day will be rolling in and out of the terminal. This will mean more frequent train service to Long Island and better access to the East side of Manhattan.
The project was first proposed back in the 1960’s and then began in the 1990’s. After 25 years, the project was finally finished with an 11 billion dollar price tag. The project delays were because of budget cuts, 9/11, Hurricane Sandy and other issues that the City was dealing with over the last forty years. The terminal finally opened fully in March of 2023 (Tour Guide/Wiki).
This is the new Madison Avenue Concourse to the Madison Avenue Terminal
In the lower terminal, steel and glass creates a sleek, modern feel. As passengers rise toward the 350,000 passenger concourse and street level, however, visual references to Grand Central’s Beaux-Arts style will create a smooth transition to the century-old landmark above. The Grand Central Madison Terminal provides eight new miles of track to connect Long Island Rail Road to Grand Central Terminal. Transportation efficiency meets energy efficiency! Green design at the new LIRR concourse and terminal will combine maximum comfort with minimal power and water use (Grand Central Terminal History and tour guide).
The new artwork that dots the terminal and all the hallways is just beautiful. Many artists were commissioned to decorate the new rail terminal. These glass mosaics decorate the halls and subway entrances to the new part of the terminal.
Kiki Smith is a West German-born American artist whose work has addressed the themes of sex, birth and regeneration. Her figurative work of the late 1980s and early 1990s confronted subjects such as AIDS, Feminism and Gender but her most recent works concentrate on the human condition and how it relates to nature. She studied at the Hartford Art School and is a member of Collaborative Projects, an artist collective (Wiki).
Further down the hall, we were greeted by this delightful and whimsical wall of surrealist images of happy and playful pictures. These engaging images were by artist Yayoi Kusama.
The artwork on the hallways of the new terminal area by Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama “A Message of Love, Directly from My Heart unto the Universe 2022”
“The other part of the artwork”A Message of Love, Directly from My Heart unto the Universe 2022” . The other side of the piece.
Artist Yayoi Kusama is a Japanese born artist who studied at the Kyoto School of Arts & Crafts and is known for her installments and sculptures but also works in film, performance art and fashion among other mediums and is known for influence in ‘Pop Art’ . She is currently the most successful living female artist in the world and is still going strong in her early 90’s. She currently is working on a second line of merchandise with Louis Vuitton (Wiki/Artist Bio).
Please watch the video of Yayoi Kusama
On the lower levels at each subway platform entrance, there is a new piece of art by Artist Kiki Smith, who continues to show here creativity in a series of local points of nature as she interprets it. Each work of art has a different theme and use of creativity and color.
The artwork at each track entrance “The Sound” by Artist Kiki Smith
The artwork at the track entrance “The Spring” by Artist Kiki Smith
The artwork at the track entrance “The Presence” by Artist Kiki Smith
The artwork at the track entrance “The Water’s Way” by artist Kiki Smith
“I made images from nature that hold affection and personal significance to me as I hope they will for others,” Smith said. “I am very honored to be included in the tradition of artists making work for the MTA, particularly as I have rarely had the opportunity to make something that lives within the public realm.” (6SqFt 2023)
We finished our tour at the last piece of artwork and then made our way back to the Cornell Club. I stayed for a half hour taking more pictures around the terminal and admiring the architecture one more time now knowing its history in more detail. It is amazing to walk around a building your whole life and never really know its history or its details. It was a wonderful tour.
The new modern entrance is now open for business and people can enjoy these wonderful pieces of art created for them to enjoy on their way to their trains and subways.
Grand Central Terminal at night
When I left for the evening, I got to see Grand Central Terminal at night and it really is nicely lit. You get to see the building at its best. It really is a beautiful building.
This was the closest tour I could find online of what I experienced:
Listen to the YouTube video while you are reading the blog. We had the same tour as on this video.
I took a different direction from my walk having finished the Flatiron District (finally!). I had just started Graduate School as I was finishing the Flatiron District and had not completed the blog when classes started. Who knew it was going to be that crazy of a semester. I had not worked that hard since Wines & Menus when I was at the Culinary Institute of America.
I bypassed the whole Theater District after the COVID vaccine mandate was lifted in June of 2020 because between the riots that took place after the George Floyd incident and all the theaters being closed because of COVID (they would not open again until 2021) I skipped this section of the Manhattan. I went to Murray Hill and worked my way down to 23rd Street. The whole Theater District was loaded with police anyway guarding the theaters and the areas in between. There was literally no one walking around this neighborhood and I would have stood out. The theaters and restaurants were boarded up and homeless all over the place.
So I’m back and it makes it really easy since I just get right out of Port Authority and here I am. The Theater District has changed tremendously in the last thirty years and has gotten much better. All of 42nd Street and its seediness has pretty much gone away (but the element still lingers) and some of the most innovative new buildings have replaced all that. It made for an interesting walk before I had to meet my friend, Maricel, for her delayed birthday dinner at Virgil’s, a barbecue restaurant on West 44th Street.
So I started on the corner of Eighth Avenue and West 42nd Street and made my way up Eighth Avenue to the northern border of the Theater District at West 54th Street. Talk about a combination of architectural structures and designs.
One of the most interesting buildings in the Times Square area is the Westin New York at Times Square at 270 West 43rd Street which stretches from West 42nd to West 43rd along Eighth Avenue. This hotel is considered one of the most innovative designed buildings in New York City when it was built.
Westin New York at Times Square at 270 West 43rd Street
The hotel was so innovative at the time when it was built and was considered a key in the redevelopment of the West 42nd Street district. The hotel was commissioned by the architectural firm of Arquitectonica to design the building. The 863 room hotel is actually two towers merged together with a ten story midsection for retail and hotel suites. The large scale abstract design has the look of a multi-dimensional gigantic origami (Arquitectonica website). The building was designed by HKS architects and was finished in 2002.
Further up Eight Avenue is the well-known Row NYC Hotel at 700 Eighth Avenue. This hotel opened in 1928 as the Hotel Lincoln and was the largest hotel in Manhattan when it opened with 1331 rooms. In 1957, the hotel was sold and remodeled and open again as The Hotel Manhattan. It was closed in the 1960’s as the rest of the area declined. It reopened again as the Milford Plaza Hotel in 1978 and was a big theater going hotel. In 2013, the hotel was sold once again and went through another renovation and opened as the currently Row NYC Hotel (Wiki).
As I made my way up Eighth Avenue that borders the Theater District, I passed the now reopened Smith’s Bar, which has been a fixture in Times Square for over sixty years opening in 1954. The bar had been sold to new owners in 2009 and then closed in 2014 to reopen a year later.
This bar has seen Times Square go through a major transition over the years and was once located in one of the worst areas during the 1990’s. It has since reopened and has been very popular going into “March Madness” with college basketball in full swing.
Located between 728 and 732 Eighth Avenue are three hold out businesses to a major construction project. It still houses Daniela at 728 Eighth Avenue, an Italian restaurant, a gift shop at 730 Eighth Avenue and Playwright Celtic Pub at 732 Eighth Avenue. Frankly I think all three businesses time is coming as the land is getting too valuable in the Times Square area. Every building around these has been torn down for a new building.
Further up the avenue on the corner of Eighth Avenue and West 46th Street is the West 46th Street SRO. This interesting building that I thought was an elegant Victorian is actually a combination of three former tenement buildings and two residences to make one building. Architects Oaklander, Coogan & Vitto PC created this interesting building with an additional shared floor topped with a mansard roof and tower. It used to house many trendy restaurants and bars but since the pandemic has been empty. By 2023 though, it is starting to fill up again (OCV Architects PC).
I reached West 48th Street and I passed Engine 54/Ladder 4/Battalion 9, which I used to pass all the time when I worked down the road at the Java Shop on the corner of Broadway and West 46th Street at 782 Eighth Avenue. These companies were hit hard a year after I left my job on 9/11 when the Brothers of this house lost 15 members that day, their entire shift. The memorial they have to their members is really touching and the guys that work there always seem so friendly to all the tourists that pass by.
Engine 54/Ladder 4/Battalion 9 at 782 Eighth Avenue
Pay respects to the Engine 54/Ladder 4 9/11 Memorial on the front of the building
Engine 54 Plaques and Awards including 9/11
The plaque at the firehouse
There are two wonderful Chinese restaurants that I like to visit when I am in the neighborhood. One is Chef Pho & Peking Roast Duck at 858 Eighth Avenue, which has wonderful lunch specials until 4:00pm. The restaurant has some of the best egg rolls that I have tasted in a long time. I made special stops here for lunch when walking the area.
The other is Real Kung Fu Little Steamed Buns at 811 Eighth Avenue which is known for their Pork & Crab and Pork Soup Dumplings. I love their fried dumplings, Scallion pancakes with sliced beef, the pan-fried Duck Buns and the Shanghai pan-fried pork buns. Everything on the menu here is excellent and you can eat your way through the menu of delicious Dim Sum.
Real Kung Fu Little Steamed Buns at 811 Eighth Avenue
When I turned the corner at West 54th Street, it was like visiting an old friend. Although I walk down this street all the time on the way to the MoMA (The Museum of Modern Art), in the past I never really paid attention to the buildings in the area or the architecture. When I walked down the street I saw the beauty in a lot of the townhouses that lined West 54th Street toward Fifth Avenue.
As I walked the border of the neighborhood on West 54th Street from Eighth Avenue, you can see the traces of Old Residential New York side by side with the new office towers, hotels and the extension of the Museum of Modern Art on the corner of West 54th and Fifth Avenue.
At the very edge of the neighborhood is 254 West 54th Street now the home of a theater but in the late 70’s was home to the famous ‘Studio 54’ nightclub and epicenter of the Disco era. There has never been a club before and after that can compare to it.
The club was opened in 1977 by club owners Steve Rubell and Ian Schlager who had once opened clubs out on Long Island and to much fanfare and the party did not end until the club was raided for tax evasion and closed February of 1980. The party was over! The club continued to open over the years but the original magic was gone as the Disco era faded away in the early 80’s.
254 West 54th Street The famous former “Studio 54”
The history of the Rise and Fall of Studio 54
Seed54 Sculpture at the corner of Sixth Avenue and West 54th Street
On the corner is the an unusual sculpture that I first noticed when walking past a hot dog vendor on the corner of Sixth Avenue and West 54th Street in front of 1330 Sixth Avenue building. This strange looking piece of artwork resembles an open air egg is by artist Haresh Lalvani. This unusual sculpture can be interpreted many different ways. The only problem is that the hot dog vendor on the corner distracts from even looking at it and I have passed it without even noticing it over the times I have been in the neighborhood.
Seed54 Sculpture at the corner of Sixth Avenue and West 54th Street
Artist Haresh Lalvani in front of one of his “HyperSurface” works
Mr. Lalvani is a professional artist and Professor at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn. His emphasis in the work is his study of morphology into nature and its effects on art. ‘Seed54′ is part of his HyperSurface’ series. Mr. Lalvani is a graduate of the Pratt Institute of Architecture (Pratt Institute).
Artist Haresh Lalvani in front of one of his “HyperSurface” works
The first building that popped out to me was The Albemarle at 205 West 54th Street. This 12 story Beaux-Arts building was built in 1903 and was once known as the Hotel Harding and then the Alba. Actress Mae West once living in the building. The hotel at one time was home to the notorious “Club Intime” run by Texas Guinan. This was a well-known Speakeasy during Prohibition (City Realty).
Take time to look at the detailed stone work and carvings along the building. It really stands out amongst its more modern neighbors.
In front of 1345 Sixth Avenue is a large silver globe that has always fascinated me on the walks down West 54th Street. There is no name of the artist and nothing on the planters or doorway of the building.
The silver globe in front of 1345 Sixth Avenue on the corner of West 54th Street
At 162 West 54th Street, another beautiful building stands out with faces staring and smiling at you. This recently renovated building has now been turned into luxury condos and has been sandblasted back to its original beauty for a building that was built in 1911.
Walking further down the street, you will realize that this part of the neighborhood is home to many of the most famous ‘old line’ hotels in Manhattan. At 65 West 54th Street is the luxury Warwick Hotel.
The 36 story hotel was built by William Randolph Hearst in 1926 with the help of architect Emery Roth with the firm of George B. Post & Sons. The outside of the hotel is done with brick, granite and limestone giving it it’s unusual color scheme. Take time to look at the hotel’s detail work and old world charm in the lobby (Wiki).
The Warwick Hotel at 65 West 54th Street
The detail work around the windows of the Warwick Hotel
As you continue to walk the border of West 54th Street closer to Fifth Avenue, you will see the back of the Museum of Modern Art which just reopened after its renovation and expansion. On the northern side of West 54th Street is a series of historical mansions each with its distinctive look.
The first home that really stood out was 35 West 54th Street. The brownstone was built right after the Civil War and was part of a series of identical brownstones built on the block. When the brownstone was bought by owner, Dr. Allan Thomas, in the late 1890’s, he stripped the front of the brownstone and gave it its current Beaux Arts facade to match architecture being built along Fifth Avenue.
Another mansion that stands out along West 54th Street is the William Murray House at 13-15 West 54th Street. These twin mansions were built for Larchmont businessman William Murray by architect Henry Janeway Hardenbergh in the ‘Renaissance style’. This section of fashionable mansions is what is left of the Gilded Age residences in the neighborhood.
The James Gordon House at 9-11 West 54th Street really stands out. James J. Gordon was the owner of the Erie Railroad and two insurance companies and was a cousin of JPMorgan, the banker. The house was designed by McKim, Mead & White in the Colonial American style. Mr. Gordon’s family had come to the United States in the 17th century and was from an old line Connecticut family. Look at the classic look of the mansion and its elegant stone and grill work. The house is now on the market for 65 million dollars (Curbed New York).
The last home in this series of brownstones is 7 West 54th Street which was built by banker Philip Lehman in 1900. The brownstone was designed in the Beaux Arts style and after his death in 1947, his son, Robert, moved in and used the home for his art collection. He used the house until he died in 1969. It is now being used as offices (Wiki).
As you turn the corner to Fifth Avenue, you start to experience the old wealth of Manhattan with the University Club to your right and St. Thomas Church to the left when you enter Fifth Avenue at West 54th Street. This area also contains luxury department stores and shops, famous hotels and the Upper Crust churches that dot Fifth Avenue. The Theater District shares the borders with Midtown East, the Upper East Side, Hell’s Kitchen and the Garment District so there is a lot of overlapping with the neighborhoods.
The next block up is a combination of unique buildings back-to-back with the University Club of New York (Princeton) and the Peninsula Hotel. These buildings are so beautiful in their place on Fifth Avenue.
The University Club of New York is a private social club and is just as elegant inside as it is outside. The building was designed by the firm of McKim, Mead & White in 1899 and was designed in the Mediterranean Revival Italian Renaissance palazzo style.
The University Club on the corner of West 54th Street and Fifth Avenue
The University Club of New York at 1 West 54th Street
When reaching the corner of East 53rd Street another historic church, Saint Thomas Church Fifth Avenue stands guard. Though the church has been part of Manhattan since 1823, the current church was built here by 1914 and consecrated in 1916 as an Episcopal parish (Wiki).
The church was designed by architects Ralph Adams Cram and Bertram Grosvenor Goodhue of the firm Cram, Goodhue & Ferguson with added sculpture by Lee Lawrie. The building is designed in the French High Gothic style and has magnificent deals (Wiki). Even if you are not Episcopalian, going to services at the church is a nice experience. The services are always very relaxed and the Saint Thomas Choir of Men and Boys is excellent. The music and songs are wonderful to hear and the concerts in the afternoon and weekends are a treat.
On the corner of Fifth Avenue and 52nd Street sits a true jewel box in the Cartier store at 653 Fifth Avenue. The store was once home to Morton Freeman Plant, the son of railroad tycoon Henry B. Plant. The home was designed by architect Robert W. Gibson in 1905 in the ‘Neo-Renaissance style’. Mr. Plant felt later that the area was getting too ‘commercial’ and moved further uptown and Cartier bought the building in 1917 (Wiki).
Cartier finished a renovation on the store in 2016 to bring back the true beauty and elegance of the store and of the building. Don’t miss the opportunity to walk around inside and see the refined displays of merchandise.
The Cartier store after the renovation
Next to the Cartier store at 647 Fifth Avenue is the next Versace store which is housed in the left side of the Vanderbilt ‘ marble twin mansions. The Vanderbilt family had bought the land and built twin buildings on the site at 647-645 Fifth Avenue. Designed by architects Hunt & Hunt in 1902, the homes were first leased out as homes until about 1915 when businesses and trade came to the area.
647 Fifth Avenue in 1902
After passing out the Vanderbilt family in 1922, the building went through many incarnations and 645 Fifth Avenue was torn down for the Best & Company Department store in 1945 only to be torn down again in 1970 for the Olympic Tower (which still stands in the spot). The building was renovated in 1995 by Versace as their Fifth Avenue store and spent six million dollars to create the store that greets customers today.
The true catalyst and center of the luxury shopping district though is St. Patrick’s Cathedral which sits gracefully at the corner of Fifth Avenue between 51st and 50th Streets. The Diocese of New York was created in 1808 and the land for the Cathedral was bought in 1810. The Cathedral was to replace the one in lower Manhattan.
This current Cathedral was designed by architect James Resnick Jr. in the Gothic Revival style. Construction was started in 1850 and was halted because of the Civil War and continued in 1865. The Cathedral was completed in 1878 and dedicated in 1879. The Cathedral was renovated in 2013 and this shows its brilliance (Wiki).
During the holiday season the Cathedral is beautifully decorated and the music can be heard all over Fifth Avenue.
Next door to St. Patrick’s Cathedral is Saks Fifth Avenue’s headquarters. The business was founded by Andrew Saks in 1876 and was incorporated in 1902. After Mr. Saks died in 1912, the business was merged with Gimbels’ Brothers Department Store as Horace Saks was a cousin of Bernard Gimbel. In 1924, they opened the new store at 611 Fifth Avenue and changed the name of the store to Saks Fifth Avenue (The old store had been on 34th Street previously and called Saks 34th). The building was designed by architects Starrett & Van Vliet and designed in a ‘genteel, Anglophile classicized design’. (Wiki).
The store has recently gone through a major multi-million dollar renovation and is worth the time to look around the new first floor. The new cosmetic department is on the lower level along with jewelry so it is a different shopping experience. In its place, the handbag department has moved to the first floor.
Once you get to West 49th Street things start to change when you enter Rockefeller Center which is across the street from Saks Fifth Avenue. The Rockefeller Center complex covers 22 acres with 19 buildings including Radio City Music Hall and the famous ice skating rink that is holiday tradition once the famous tree is lite. The complex stretches from East 48th to East 51st Street from Fifth to Sixth Avenues. Rockefeller Center was built in two sections, the original 16 building of the complex and then the second section west of Sixth Avenue (Wiki).
Rockefeller Center at 45 Rockefeller Plaza on Fifth Avenue
The land under Rockefeller Center was owned by Columbia University (which was later sold) and the building of the complex started at the beginning of the Great Depression. Construction started in 1931 with the first section opening in 1933 and the remainder of the complex opening in 1939 (Wiki).
The original section of the complex was built in the ‘Art Deco style’ and the extension on Sixth Avenue was built in the ‘International style’. Three separate firms were hired to design the complex with the principal architects being Raymond Hood of Hood, Godley and Fouilhoux who was a student in the Art Deco style, Harvey Wiley Corbett and Wallace Harrison of Corbett, Harrison & McMurray and to lay the floor plans for the project L. Andrew Reinhard and Henry Hofmeister of Reinhard & Hofmeister. They were working under the Associated architects so that no one person could take the credit for the project (Wiki). Two of the original tenants including Radio Corporation of America (RCA) and National Broadcasting Company (NBC) which still exist.
The original section of Rockefeller Center
Radio City Music Hall, known for the elaborate shows and the Rockettes, was finished in 1932 and the ice-skating rink was finished in 1933 and the first Christmas tree was erected by the workers who were doing all the building.
The first tree in Rockefeller Center in 1933 with the constructions workers who erected it.
The rest of the complex went up over the next five years with extensions and renovations being done over the next fifty years. Many famous companies made Rockefeller Center their headquarters or moved their offices to the complex over the years. Still most tourists find their way to the restaurants and the famous rink at the holidays.
Rockefeller Center and the famous tree at Christmas 2022
Of all the beautiful artwork that line the walls and courtyards of the complex, two stand out. Prometheus is a beautiful statue that stands proud above the ice-skating rink. This beautiful cast iron, gilded sculpture was made in 1934 by artist Paul Manship. The work is of the Greek legend of Titan Prometheus who brought fire to mankind by stealing it from the Chariot of the Sun (Wiki).
Mr. Manship was a well-known American artist who noted for his specialized work in mythological pieces in the classic style. He was educated at the St. Paul School of Art and at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts.
The other standout statue is of the God Atlas that guards the courtyard of the International Buildings. The sculpture was created by artist Lee Lawrie with the help of Rene Paul Chambellan. The statue was created in the Art Deco style to match with the architecture of the Center and depicts Atlas carrying the celestial vault on his shoulders.
Atlas at Rockefeller Center
Mr. Lawrie was known as a architectural sculptor whose work is integrated into the building design. His work in the Art Deco design fit perfectly into the new building. Mr. Lawrie was a graduate of the School of Fine Arts at Yale.
Artist Lee Lawrie
Touring around Rockefeller Center can take a full afternoon itself especially at the holidays but in the summer months with the outdoor cafe open on the skating rink it is much more open.
Framing the view of Prometheus from the Channel Gardens are Youth and Maiden, which were originally commissioned as companion figures for Rockefeller Center’s famous fire god, one male and one female, to represent humankind.
Artist Paul Manship’s ‘Maiden’
Artist Paul Manship’s ‘Youth”
Originally placed on either side of the gilded Prometheus, each figure extends one hand to receive the gift of fire. The dramatic architecture surrounding Rockefeller Center’s Channel Gardens frames a major exhibition of sculpture by American artist Paul Howard Manship (Public Art Fund 1999).
Also visit the underground walkways of shops and restaurants and visit the new FAO Schwarz that opened in the center. In the winter months, it is fun to watch the skaters on the iconic ice rink. I then headed back down Fifth Avenue again to walk through Bryant Park.
Another former business that was well known on Fifth Avenue for years was located at 597 Fifth Avenue was Charles Scribner Sons Building. It originally housed the Charles Scribner Book Store replacing the old store on lower Fifth Avenue. The building at 597 Fifth Avenue was designed by architect Ernest Flagg in the Beaux Arts style between 1912-13 (Wiki).
The bookstore moved out in 1980 and the company became part of Barnes & Noble Bookstores and the building has been sold since. It now houses a Lululemon Athletica store but you can still see the Scribner’s name on the outside of the building and the Landmarked bookshelves inside the store.
The Charles Scribner Sons Building at 597 Fifth Avenue
The rest of Fifth Avenue is newer office buildings with retail space on the bottom levels some filled and some empty. When I was growing up, this part of Fifth Avenue was filled with high end stores. Today it is a combination of chain stores found in the suburbs or are just sitting empty, a trend found all over this part of Midtown East.
At 551 Fifth Avenue another interesting building, The Fred French Building really stands out. The building was created by architects H. Douglas Ives and Sloan & Robertson in 1927 in the ‘Art Deco Style’. Really look at the detail work all the up the building which was done in an ‘Eastern Design’ style with winged animals, griffins and golden beehives made to symbolize according to the architect ‘commerce and character and activities’ of the French companies. The outside material used on the building is faience, a glazed ceramic ware (Wiki).
The detail work on the top of the Fred French Building
From 43rd Street, I walked back up Fifth Avenue to the other side of the street and the buildings on this side of the street contains its share of architectural gems. The glass box building at 510 Fifth Avenue has always stood out to me. It was built in 1954 for the Manufacturers Trust Company. It was designed by architect Charles Evans Hughes III and Gordon Bunshaft of Skidmore, Evans & Merrill in the International style and recently has won awards for its extensive renovation. It had been used as a branch of Chase Bank until 2000 and now is used for retail stores (Wiki).
The lower part of this side of Fifth Avenue is going through a transition as a lot of buildings exteriors are either being renovated or the building itself is being knocked down and a new one is rising. Many of the buildings here are quite new or just don’t stand out.
I reached Bryant Park by the afternoon and it was just beautiful that afternoon. The park has gotten more crowded with each month that the City has opened. The tables and chairs are pretty much back to normal since the years of COVID have passed into memory (it is still with us) and people are back to socializing again. It has become one of the nicest parks in New York in comparison to what it was in the late 1980’s. It also has the nicest and cleanest public bathrooms in Manhattan so it is worth the wait in line.
Bryant Park was busy that day
Bryant Park just before the ice skating rink was taken down
Years ago when I worked in Manhattan in the early 90’s, Bryant Park was only used for drug dealing and criminal activity and was best avoided. What twenty years and a major renovation can do to a park. Today you can walk along the flowering paths and think you are in Paris. In the past there have been concerts and movies in the park but because of COVID-19, you can just sit in the park on a chair or bench and enjoy the sunshine and admire the flowers.
Just walking along the paths of Bryant Park in the Spring and Summer months can make you forget your troubles
I continued my walk of the Garment District passing the New York Public Library admiring the stone carvings and statuary that is part of the entrance of the famous library. The library had just had a recent refreshing and looked magnificent with the fountains flowing and patrons filling the tables outside the building.
The New York Public Library guards the borders of Murray Hill from Fifth Avenue (During COVID)
This famous iconic building was designed by the firm of Carrere and Hastings in the Beaux-Arts style and opened its doors May 23, 1911. The founding for this important library came from patronage of the wealth members of society who believed in the value education and opened it to the people.
The famous lion statues that grace the entrance of the library were designed by American sculptor Edward Clark Potter and they were carved by the Piccirilli Brothers, American stone carvers whose business was based in the Bronx.
The NY Public Library Lions are iconic
Edward Clark Potter is an American born artist who studied at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston and at the Academie Julian in Paris where he studied ‘animalier’, animal sculpture.
The Piccirilli Brothers were a family of stone carvers and artists in their own right who were from Massa, Italy and owned a business in the Bronx. There were responsible for many famous statues all over the City including the Maine Memorial in Columbus Circle and the Firemen’s Memorial in Riverside Park.
Artist Attilio Piccirillo , one of the most famous from the family
Another feature of the famous building and I had never noticed before was the elegant fountains that flank the entrance to the library. I did not realize that these fountains had just been restored in 2015 after thirty years of not functioning. They were restored with a grant from the Robert W. Wilson Charitable Trust (NYPL Site).
The fountain “Beauty”
The fountain “Truth”
These beautiful fountains were designed by artist Frederick MacMonnies, an American born artist who studied at the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris.
I relaxed under the trees and took a break from the walking. It is a funny thing that I have noticed at the park and it seems like no one is ever working. Everyone is either eating or talking. It has been so different since COVID started. You never see dressed business people in the park taking a break. It looks more like it is full of tourists visiting.
Enjoy the opening scene of “Ghostbusters” from 1984 shot at the NY Public Library:
Enjoy this scene from “Ghostbusters” from 1984 shot at the NY Public Library
The opening of the film “Ghostbusters” was shot inside the New York Public Library
Still when the park is in full bloom there is nothing like it. It is surrounded by classic architecture and beautiful buildings. They even were bringing back the “Bryant Park Film Festival” by the end of the summer. One Monday night I took a break from walking and watched the film “Moonstruck” which I had seen outside once at the Brooklyn Botanical Garden. Even though I had seen it hundreds of times since it came out I never tire of watching the film.
There have been many changes around Bryant Park in the last twenty years. Most of the older buildings of Times Square have been long knocked down and the area rebuilt which needed it. Now the impressive Bank of America building at 1111 Sixth Avenue (or also known as One Bryant Park) graces the corner of West 42nd Street and Sixth Avenue (trust me, no one in New York City calls Sixth Avenue “The Avenue of the Americas”).
This innovative building was designed by architect Rick Cook from the firm of Cookfox Adamson Associates. The building was designed with a clear ‘Curtain wall’ and several diagonal planes for wind resistance. The building was also awarded a LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) for sustainable ‘green’ architecture (Wiki/Durst website).
The further you walk down West 42nd Street, the more you see how the block has changed in the last thirty years. All the older theaters and office buildings were knocked down and cleared out back in the 1980’s when Times Square went through urban renewal. The more historical theaters and old hotels have since been refitted and renovated.
Across the street in Three Bryant Park’s plaza is an interesting statue entitled “The Guardians: Hero” by artist Antonio Pio Saracino. This unique sculpture in made in layers and created from marble set in precision stone. The statue is done in repeated planes of marble . The sculpture is a modern representation on Michelangelo’s “David” Stoneworld/APS Designs).
Artist Antonio Pio Saracino is an Italian born artist currently working in New York City. He is a graduate of Sapienza University of Rome and works as an architect and designer. He has had shows all over the world (Wiki).
At the corner of West 42nd Street and Broadway is the Knickerbocker Hotel at 6 Times Square. This hotel has had many incarnations over the years including an apartment house. As the neighborhood has improved, the historical buildings in the area have been renovated back to their former selves.
The Knickerbocker Hotel was built by John Jacob Astor IV and it opened in 1906. The hotel was designed by the firm of Marvin & Davis in the Beaux-Arts style. The outside of the hotel was built in red brick with terracotta details. The hotel was fully renovated in 2015 (Wiki).
One building that stands tall in Times Square is One Times Square known as 1475 Broadway. Once the home headquarters for the New York Times was opened in 1904. The building was designed by architect Cyrus L.W. Eidlitz. The original façade was of stone and terra cotta but this has been mostly stripped and is now home for mostly advertising. The ball still drops from the top of the building every New Year (Wiki).
One Times Square before the scaffolding went up
One Times Square with the lit ball for the New Year
What is left of the old ’42nd Street’ Theater District has been renovated and refitted of its historic theaters. The rest of the block was knocked down and new office buildings were built starting in the late 1980’s and throughout the 1990’s. This is still a major gateway to the City especially from the Lincoln Tunnel and the Port Authority (NYCEDC/42nd Street Redevelopment Project).
The original 42nd Street Redevelopment project (NYCEDC)
In the early 1980’s to the early 90’s until Mayor Rudy Giuliani took office, this area was being touted for redevelopment. It had started before the 1987 Stock Market Crash and then stalled for almost eight years. In the early 1990’s, the whole block between Seventh and Eighth Avenues along West 42nd Street were torn down, the theaters started to get renovated and new office buildings were built. If someone left New York City in 1990 and came back today, they would not recognize the neighborhood to the changes made.
Some of the changes has been the renovation and restoration of three beautiful theaters, the New Victory Theater at 209 West 42nd Street, the New Amsterdam Theater at 214 West 42nd Street and the former Empire Theater now the AMC Empire Theater at 234 West 42nd Street. Each of these architectural wonders used to be major theater houses before they became porn theaters and are now back to their original glory.
The New Victory Theater was one of the first theaters to reopen under the new plan.
The New Victory Theater was built by Oscar Hammerstein I in 1900 and was designed by architect Albert Westover. It opened as the Theatre Republic in 1900 and showed live stage shows. It did not become a movie theater until 1942 and by 1972 it became a porn theater. it resumed legitimate theater by the 1990’s when it was refurbished in 1995 and was the first theaters renovated in the 42nd Development plan (Wiki).
The New Amsterdam Theater is one of the oldest theaters in the area having been built between 1903 and 1904. The theater was built by Klaw and Erlanger for live theater and was designed by architects Herts & Tallant with a Beaux Arts exterior design and an Art Deco interior. The embellishments and details on the outside are quite elaborate (Wiki).
The theater was home to the Ziegfeld Follies from from 1913 to 1927 and hosted the elaborate shows of their day. It then was converted to a movie theater in 1937 until 1983 when it was leased to the Walt Disney company and renovated between 1995 and 1997. It is now operated by Disney Theatrical Productions for their live shows (Wiki/Walt Disney Company).
The former Empire Theater now the AMC Empire 25 was built in 1912 for producer Al H. Woods and was designed by architect Thomas W. Lamb in the Beaux Arts style. The theater was for live stage performances until 1943 when it was converted into a movie palace. It closed for good in the 1980’s as the area declined (Cinema Treasurers).
In 1998, the theater was moved from its location at 236 West 42nd Street and moved down the street to its present location at 234 West 42nd Street. The exterior was largely kept intact and the present theater interior was built inside of it enhancing the beauty of the present building (Cinema Treasurers/Wiki).
These theaters showed the testament of time and this type of architecture now is appreciated and being refitted to modern uses like the buildings I had seen in NoMAD (North of Madison Square Park) and in the Flatiron District.
A lot of the businesses on West 42nd Street heading back to the Port Authority have started opening up again. Sidewalk cafes were out with the warmer weather and customers were milling around. I saw this happening on my walks into the Hell’s Kitchen/Clinton section just north of the border of the Garment District.
The Port Authority at the edge of the Theater District is always busy.
After I reached the Port Authority, I double backed to West 44th Street to join Maricel for lunch at Virgil’s Barbecue. The restaurant was really crowded as “March Madness” had started and college basketball was in full swing. We had a group of Howard Alumni sitting behind us and by the end of lunch they looked heart broken as their team fell behind. There were plenty of other Alumni from other schools in the restaurant watching the games on the many TVs that lined the bar area of the restaurant.
We had not been to Virgil’s since before COVID hit. We used to come here quite often so it was nice to back. Lunch was wonderful. I had a much-needed Pulled Pork Sandwich with a bowl of homemade chicken soup. Maricel could not finish her Mac & Cheese, so she gave me the rest. It was a wonderful afternoon of food and great conversation. She actually asked how my walk in Manhattan was going. I reminded her that she was supposed to be doing this project with me originally. She laughed at that one. After lunch it was perfect after a long walk around the neighborhood.
The Pulled Pork Sandwich at Virgil’s with Mac & Cheese and a biscuit
It was a nice afternoon to walk around and to spend the rest of the afternoon with a good friend over wonderful food made it even better.
It is nice to see the Theater District come to life again after a long COVID slumber. It is going to interesting to see how the area develops now that all the theaters are open, and the tourists are coming back. Talk about a drastic change in just two years!
This was the first year that “The Great Saunter Walk”, the 32-mile perimeter walk around the entire island took place since 2019. Since I had done the walk twice on my own, actually doing more of the walk than was required. This year I wanted to make it official.
I officially finished “The Great Saunter Walk” in May of 2022
The problem was by the time I wanted to sign up for the walk, it was completely sold out. So, I was put on a waiting list. With a prediction of rain all day (and it did rain all day!), many people dropped out before the event occurred, so I got to sign up. On a very gloomy Saturday morning, I got to the Frances Tavern at 7:30am to register and start the walk by the entrance of the Staten Island ferry.
Rather than rewrite the whole day, I updated the blog that I have written over the last two years and added to it. I hope you all enjoy my journey around the most famous island on earth on the gloomiest and rainy day ever. I hope you enjoy the journey!
My story of my walk around Manhattan island:
“The Great Saunter Walk”:
July 15th, 2022, independent walk:
I wanted to complete the walk again in the Summer to look at if from another perspective and walked the island perimeter again on July 15th. It took another three and a half hours to do the walk. This is due to meal breaks and just exhaustion due to the heat.
Normally I walk “The Great Saunter” in June around the time of either Father’s Day or the Summer Solstice, so that I have plenty of light. The problem was I was so busy in June that I had to push it back to July and the biggest problem was the heat. In the morning when I started the walk, it was cool and in the high 70’s due to the clouds. When they broke around 10:00am, it started to get hotter and went to the mid 80’s. It would not have been so bad, but the humidity plays a role in the walk. When I did the official walk in May, it was so cold and wet we never stopped for a long break as we all just wanted to get it done and go home.
In the warmer months, I like to stop and relax at various parks like Jefferson Park in East Harlem or Carl Schulz Park on the Upper East Side and let my legs relax. The reason why we finished the walk in May quicker is because the businessman who I was walking with in the last leg of the walk around Stuyvesant Cove just wanted to finish as well so we never stopped.
There were a lot more people in the parks that day, so it made maneuvering a bit harder and, in some cases, like in Jefferson Park, people were all over one another. I have noticed one thing and it is not just in New York City, people’s courtesy has gone way down. People were riding their electric bikes and motorcycles in the paths of the park and on the sidewalks practically knocking people down. One very over-weight woman rode a moped through the main path of Jefferson Park chasing her dog and nearly ran over two little girls who had just finished swimming. That was something!
The nice part of the walk in July was the clear sunny day it had been and being able to enjoy the breezes and the sunshine. It is much nicer to do the walk on a pleasant day than in the rain.
My first ‘Selfie” of myself at the start of “The Great Saunter” in May of 2023. I for the life of me can’t understand the thrill people have of doing this. I now know why people think I’m a Fed all the time!
The Second Official walk of “The Great Saunter” on May 6th, 2023:
I have to admit that I thought walking in the rain was an interesting way to do “The Great Saunter”. This year I had to add in a three-hour class that I had to take for my NYU graduate program for my upcoming trip for a class in Paris.
To make the walk easier this year, I decided to stay in the City so that I could get a good night’s sleep and be closer to the start point so that I could walk as much of the West Side of the Island before I had to leave for class at 9:00am.
I was in the middle of final exams for both my college and my graduate work at NYU so Friday night before the walk, I had to write my section of a research paper on tourism between Philadelphia and Boston, grade my students end of the semester papers, update some blogs that I was working on and work on other projects.
We had just finished my Business Communications class final at NYU and after lunch with my classmates and Professor, I headed downtown to get checked in at the Residence Inn in Lower Manhattan. The hotel is just a few blocks from Fraunces Tavern, which is the starting point for “The Great Saunter”. It would be an easier start for me since I had to stop and leave for class. I spent the rest of the afternoon at the hotel doing homework, reading and grading papers and working on updating my blogs. I ended up taking a long nap after all the work was done.
The Residence Inn Downtown Manhattan was our base for “The Great Saunter”:
Later that evening while I waited for my friend, Maricel to join me after work, I went to the Shake Shack in the Fulton Mall off Broadway for some dinner. I could not believe that a Shake Shack was so filthy, and the staff looked like they could care less about the food or decor. I could not believe how this restaurant was being run like there was no manager there. The Dining Room and tables needed a good cleaning and sweeping and the guy working there spent most of his time on his cell phone. I ate my dinner and left. Even though the food tasted good, visually speaking it was not up to the standards that I have seen at every other Shake Shack that I have eaten at over the years (See review on TripAdvisor).
The Chicken sandwich and French Fries at Shake Shack at the Fulton Mall
When Maricel arrived from work, we talked for about an hour and caught up. It had been a while since we could spend some time with each other. I think I lasted about an hour and then fell asleep. Later she told me that she was in the middle of talking to me and I went out like a light.
The next morning, I woke up and I had one of the best night’s sleeps in a long time. I had not felt that refreshed in a long time. I swear that the Marriott mattresses are worth their weight in gold. I had to get dressed and ready to go for the all day walk. Since I knew that I had to stop around 8:45am, I wanted to get started exactly at 7:00am.
While Maricel slept, I got shaved, showered and on my way. I stopped at Traders Express Deli at 22 Beaver Street which was the only place open at that time to get breakfast. All the fast food places were still closed, the hotel breakfast did not open until 7:00am on the weekends and all the coffee places just served coffee. This was an opportunity that Fraunces Tavern is losing to serve breakfast to a large crowd.
Trader’s Express Deli at 22 Beaver Street in Lower Manhattan
I ordered a Sausage, Egg and Cheese that I highly recommend. What I liked about the place was the friendliness of the staff and the fact that everyone seemed to be regulars. The sandwich was excellent and was the perfect breakfast to start the walk.
Eating my breakfast sandwich across from the start point
The Sausage, Egg and Cheese was yum!
After breakfast I got in the already growing line of about a hundred people and we got ready to go. At exactly 7:00am, off we went. We collected our hats and pins and were on our way up through Battery Park along the Hudson River West Side of the island. We lucked out this year as the weather was sunny, warm and just crisp enough in the morning to walk comfortably.
The start of “The Great Saunter” Fraunces Tavern in May 6th, 2023
Us lining up for “The Great Saunter” on May 6th, 2023
We lucked out this year versus last year when it rained all day. I had never been so drenched. This year it was so nice. It was bright, sunny and crisp in the morning, perfect to start the walk. When we began at 7:00am, I got my hat, pin and off I went. Since I had the new iPhone to take pictures, I was stopping by all the statuary so that I could update my older blogs on “The Great Saunter” and on walks in those neighborhoods. I got some really great shots in of sculptures along the West Side of the Island of Manhattan.
The start of “The Great Saunter” on May 6th, 2023
It was funny that another blogger said he recognized me on the walk from a previous walk and he sent me a copy of the video. It was me walking around Lower Manhattan.
Angel sent me this video of myself starting the walk right in front of him until I stopped to take a picture of lower Manhattan.
I was making excellent timing getting through the Battery, but I kept stopping to take pictures of all the sculptures that I had passed on previous walks, and I wanted better pictures this time. The day was sunny and blue, so it was perfect for taking pictures around the city. I could not believe the beautiful views that I saw of Liberty Island, Jersey City and Hoboken. Even the shots of lower Manhattan were amazing and so vivid.
Lower Manhattan that morning when I stopped to take a picture.
Passing Lady Liberty in the harbor that morning
For most of the walk until I hit 60th Street, I stopped every ten minutes to take pictures. At 8:45am though, I had to head back down to the NYU Campus to present my walking tour in Paris in three weeks (be on the lookout for “My walk in Paris” segment of this blog) and it went by really well. So well, that the professor wanted more from me so there will be some adjustments.
The view from the Battery at the riverfront of Jersey City, NJ in the background
I kept on track for walk through the Battery and kept pace with everyone else mostly passing people on my way up through Battery Park. I was making good time enjoying the warm weather and the beautiful sites that was a pleasure from the cold miserable weather from last year.
As I walked through Battery Park, I had to stop at each of the sculptures that I admired so much in all the walks that I have done in the past. It is an open-air museum in that part of the City. The first thing I passed was Castle Clinton, which once upon a time was the place immigrants registered when they came to this country before they went to Ellis Island. It also was once home to the New York Aquarium until Robert Moses dismantled it. Now it is used as a museum and a place where you buy your tickets to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island to the museums.
As we rounded the park in the Battery Park City, I saw a series of statues that I had seen many times on the walk. The first was the American Merchant Mariners’ Memorial. This is kind of a creepy statue as it stares at you from the bay. This was based on an incident from WWII.
The American Merchant Mariners’ Memorial at Battery Park
Ms. Escobar was born in Paris and raised in Venezuela and moved to New York in the 1950’s. She is known for her highly stylized boxy sculptures (NYCParks.org). She studied art at the Jepson Art Institute, the Ecole des Beaux Arts and Art Students League of New York (Wiki).
The signage for the statue
The next statue I remembered was the NY
Another sculpture I missed on my first two walks around the island was the New York Korean Memorial by artist Mac Adams.
The statue is one of the first monuments to the Korean conflict built in the United States and the void in the sculpture represents the absence and loss of the war and a metaphor for death (NYCParks.org).
Artist Mac Adams is a British born artist who now lives in the New York area. He holds an MFA from Rutgers University. He is known for his large public works and for the use of ‘space between images’ (Wiki/Artist Bio).
I left Battery Park and entered into the newer extension of Robert Wagner Jr. Park next to Battery Park City. In the front part of the park, I came across these unusual musical instrument sculptures that graced the entrance of the park.
The art entitled “Resonating Bodies” were created by British born artist Tony Cragg, whose work I had seen uptown many times. The sculptures resemble a lute and a tuba. The work is based on the concept that all physical bodies including we are constantly enveloped by various energy forms (NYCParks.org).
“Resonating Bodies” at Robert Wagner Jr. Park in Battery Park City
Mr. Cragg is a British born artist from Liverpool and studied at the Gloucestershire School of Art, received his BA from the Wimbledon School of Art and his MA from the Royal School of Art. He has been showing his works since 1977. He is best known for his contemporary sculptures (Artist Bio/Wiki).
Once I passed through Robert Wagner Jr. Park at Battery Park City, I continued up the West Side Promenade on my way up the west side of Manhattan making great time. I got a better view of downtown Jersey City, NJ and could not believe how beautiful the skyline is at that time of the day.
Downtown Jersey City, NJ in all its glory
Manhattan looks so vibrant at this time of the morning. There is not a lot of action at 7:30am in the morning so you can see the City at its best. As we walked though Battery Park City and the park on our way up the West Side, I had to keep taking shots of familiar sites and the famous skyline.
Battery Park City in all it “Oz” glory at 8:00am in the morning
Another piece of art that I came across that I missed in the last two trips is “Apple” by artist Stephen Weiss. The piece was part of the ‘Larger than Life” series of the artist and symbolized the heart and core of life in New York City (Hudson River Park).
“The Apple” by artist Stephen Weiss in Hudson River Park
Artist Stephen Weiss was a New York born artist who had attended the Pratt Institute. He had worked for his family company and was the husband of designer, Donna Karan. He was known for his family company and was the husband of designer, Donna Karan. He was known for his sculpture works (RoGallery).
As we were heading up the west side, I never noticed a sign that says “I want to Thank You” on the pier. I thought that was interesting in that I never noticed it before on my walks through Hudson River Park. I did not know if this was a piece of art work or just a message to someone.
The “I want to Thank You” sign in Hudson River Park
The last piece of art that stood out to me on this trip through Battery Park was entitled “Days End” by artist David Hammons. It looked like the shell of an empty building and struck a nerve as the sun started to set on the New Jersey side of the Hudson River. It is an ‘Open Air’ sculpture that explores the history of the neighborhood (Whitney Museum).
Mr. Hammons is an American born artist who studied at the Chouinard Art Institute (CalArts) and at Otis Art Institute. He is known for his Body Prints and sculpture work (Wiki/Artnet.com).
I headed up the thin stretch of park along Hudson River Park, I passed all the piers again that had become such a familiar site for me for not just The Great Saunter but for the neighborhood walks. I was able to judge where I was by the artwork and by the part of the park I had walked through. Since I have covered the whole island to 23rd Street, many of these sites I had remembered at previous times.
While I was walking through the parks, a few pieces of park sculpture stood out to me as I reached Hudson River Park in Chelsea. The long trek up Joe DiMaggio Highway made me more aware of my surroundings as I had to stop again. I came across the ‘Serpentine Sculptures’, these large twisting metal concoctions that graced the riverfront walkway.
These interesting, twisted sculptures are by American artist Mark Gabian who holds a BA in Art History and BFA in Sculpture from Cornell University (my Alma Mater!). Mr. Gabian’s sculptures can be seen all over the world. The artist has been quoted as saying he created monumental site-specific commissions in two or three dimensions’ (the artist’s website).
As I walked up Hudson River Park, I kept passing group after group of people on my way through the park. Everyone was pacing themselves but there are always those people that start jogging which I do not understand. They act like this is a contest and it is not the New York Marathon where we get judged for the time we keep. We just make it back to Fraunces Tavern and get our certificate.
When I reached West 13th Street near Pier 53, I passed the latest attraction in Manhattan, “Little Island”, a whimsical park that had just opened the year before and I still have not visited. I was going to take a detour for a bit and walk inside the park but I wanted to make it as far as I could up the West Side that morning. Still, it is place that I want to visit and is on my bucket list.
The “Little Island” looks like visiting “Whoville” in the “Grinch who stole Christmas” in the summertime. This well landscaped park is now two years old, and I still can’t believe that I have not visited it. For another day I told myself and made a mental note of it.
As I passed West 23rd Street, there were more pieces of art that I remembered from when I was walking these neighborhoods. When you enter Hudson River Park from West 23rd Street, there is a very unusual set of sculptures entitled ‘Two Too Large Tables’ by artists Allan and Ellen Wexler. Two Too Large Tables consists of two elements. Each is constructed of brushed stainless steel and Ipe wood.
One piece has thirteen chairs extended up to become columns that raise sixteen square feet plane seven feet off the ground. In the second piece, the same chairs act as supporters to lift a sixteen square feet plane 30 inches off the ground. The first functions as a shade pavilion, the second as a community table. As people sit, they become part of the sculpture. People sitting together, forming unusual pairings because of the chair groupings (Artist bio).
Two Too Large Tables in Hudson River Park (Artist bio)
Artist Allen Wexler is an American born artist from Connecticut and studied at Rhode Island School of Design where he received his BFA and BS in Architecture. He studied and earned his MS in Architecture from the Pratt Institute. He is known for his multiple disciplines in art (Wiki).
The trip up Twelve Avenue is less than exciting. There is a tiny strip of park along the river that is mostly behind fencing. On the other side of the street is construction holes and fences from all the planned buildings that will start raising along the avenue.
The one place where there was some action was BLADE Operations at the Hudson River Park where helicopters were flying in. It reminded me of the opening scene of the Peter Bogdanovich film “They All Laughed” that I had just seen at the retrospect of the director’s work at the MoMA.
“They All Laughed” trailer by Peter Bogdanovich is a true Manhattan film
You will pass some very impressive buildings that are part of New York’s “Silicon Valley” including the well-known Starrett-Lehigh Building that has changed the complexity of the businesses in this neighborhood.
The Starrett-Lehigh Building at 601 West 26th Street
The building was built and finished in 1931 for the Starrett Corporation and the Leigh Valley Railroad as a freight terminal. The building was designed by the architectural firm of Cory & Cory and in 1998 went through a renovation as a office building. It is currently going through another renovation that will be completed in 2023 (Wiki/Starrett-Leigh website).
As I crossed the street from Hudson River Park, I passed the renovations of Chelsea Waterside Park. This is the park where last year I started “The Great Saunter Walk” last year on the Summer Solstice. The park had a ‘Butterfly Garden’ that people were working the morning that I started the walk. The park is going through a full make over and the plans for it look amazing.
Chelsea Waterside Park at 557 West 23rd Street (Hudson River Park Archives)
The renovations are in the works right now
When you walk through Hudson River Park, it is the nicest place to take a rest and sit under a tree to cool off. The park has the most amazing breezes and views of the river and neighboring New Jersey.
As I was walking around one of the wooded piers admiring the view, I came a across a grouping of stones that looked unusual with the way that they were set. The grouping was a sculpture garden by artist Meg Webster entitled “Stonefield”.
“Stonefield” by artist Meg Webster
This landscape sculpture consists of large stones chosen from quarries in New York State and the northeast corner of Pennsylvania. They were selected for their special shapes and unusual sculptural qualities. Some are colorful, some are concave, some craggy, one is very tall. The artist views each stone as special and arranged each to showcase its unique characteristics and individual “being-ness” (Hudson River Park.com).
Ms. Webster is an American born artist who has a BA from Old Dominion University and MFA from Yale University. She works with natural materials such as salt, sand and earth known for her Post-Minimalism and the Land Art Movement. She is known for her sculpture and installation work (Wiki).
Artist Meg Webster talks about her artwork
As I passed the Hudson Yards complex at West 30th Street, it gleamed like “Oz” in the distance. This complex has now opened in full force since the Pandemic and the mall and all the parks have large crowds that I have not seen since most of it had been finished. I could tell the tourists have come back to the City.
The Hudson Yards complex in all its glory that morning
From West 23rd Street to West 57th Street I accelerated my walking as I wanted to get to my goal of West 60th Street before 9:00am. I passed many familiar sites from previous walks including the Circle Line at West 42nd Street where I started my first walk in 2020 and where I had spent my birthday pre-pandemic wanting to see the exterior of Manhattan, which was a real eye opener. The Intrepid Museum had just reopened a year and a half before and I made another mental note that I wanted to see that too (see my previous blog above on “The Great Saunter”).
Another familiar piece of art that I stopped to admire by Pier 96 was Malcolm Cochran’s artwork “Private Passage” again. I came across this sculpture when visiting the park two years earlier. The piece is a giant bottle and when you look in the port hole you will see a state room of the former Queen Mary. It is an interesting piece of artwork that is not hard to miss and take time to look in the port holes.
The artist is originally from Pittsburgh, PA and is graduate of Wesleyan College who specializes in large sculptures.
Further up the park, I saw the old New York Transfer Station piece in Riverside Park. This is a relic of the old West Side Railroad tracks that were once part of the New York Central Railroad that the park and buildings behind it are built on. This transfer bridge once was used to attach railroad cars to the freight tracks that once ran up and down this part of the island (Forgotten New York).
The New York Central Transfer Station
It is interesting to see this now as a piece of art instead of a functioning part of the railroad, but it is fascinating to see how we use the parts of the past as a piece of art in the present. This shows the current park visitor how we have made new uses of the riverfront for recreation and pleasure which was not true during the early parts of the last century.
What was nice about having the new iPhone was that I was able to take much better pictures of all these wonderful sites and record them for the blogs. When I got home, I updated all the pictures on previous blogs, and they really showcase all these wonderful works in the West Side parks.
Hudson River Park was getting crowded with dog walkers and joggers by 8:30am and people were really out and about. We had to share a thin strip of walkway with everyone including the bikers who kept yelling at us to get out of the way. There are just too many people enjoying these parks at once. Still, I got some great shots in and made excellent time. By 8:45am, I made it to West 60th Street and stopped to head back to the hotel and get to class. I had to present my proposal for my NYU class to Paris this summer and did not want to go all sweaty and needed my computer as well.
So, I went to the Columbus Circle stop and headed back down to lower Manhattan where Maricel was still asleep. As I walked through the subway terminal, I passed the Underground Market, which is the food court that was so popular pre-COVID. After the City opened up, this food court was practically dead as most of the restaurants had closed due to the lack of people visiting and working in the area. It looked like it had finally started to come back (another mental note to visit it).
The Turnstyle Underground Market has reopened and filling up again at the West 60th Columbus Circle subway stop.
I ran back to the hotel, changed my clothes and went to class at West 12th Street. i presented my walking project for the Left Bank of Paris, explained what we were doing and then listened to my classmate’s presentations. We finished by 1:00pm and I ran back to the hotel, changed back into my clothes, said goodbye to Maricel and checked my luggage and took the subway back to Columbus Circle. By the time I got up to the station, walked down West 59th Street and got back to Hudson River Park, it was past 2:00pm.
I resumed the walk at 2:30pm on the dot back on West 60th Street. The weather was still amazing, and I was convinced that I could finish the walk around 10:00pm. Oh, the day I had ahead of me was going to be a long one. The weather was utterly amazing so walking up the west side of the island was not so bad. It was not that hot, so it made walking pleasant in the later afternoon. I just don’t remember it taking that long to get to Inwood Park, which I would not get to until 5:00pm.
Along the way as I walked up Hudson River Park to Riverside Park at West 72nd Street, I saw a couple of people who had quit the walk. A couple with their baby must have gotten as far as Inwood Park and then made their way back down the West Side. They just smiled at me as I passed them.
Then at the extension of Dyckman Avenue by West 207th, I saw a group of four people who looked like they had just finished lunch and by their body language I could tell were done for the day. I passed them too. After that I did not see anyone on the walk until I got to Jefferson Park on the other side of the island in East Harlem as I was eating my dinner.
Not only was the weather very pleasant for the walk, so was walking through the parks. Everything was either in full bloom or had buds out and the parks looked really green. It was so beautiful to walk through them on this warm sunny day.
I made it up to West Harlem Piers Park 3:30pm and it was pretty busy on the sunny day. People were out walking their dogs, fishing on the pier or reading books at the benches. The park was not as messy as it normally is but the parks department people were out in full force the entire time I walked on the West Side so the parks were really clean. I stopped to take more pictures.
I passed the unusual sculptures, Voice One and Voice Two by artist Nari Ward, a New York based artist who likes to use objects found in his own neighborhood (artist website). They have become a marker for this walk on how far I have traveled. They are quite unique.
These unusual silver sculptures I almost interpreted as people trying to speak and it was interesting that the sculptures were called Voice I and Voice II. I was not sure of what the artist was trying to communicate with his artwork, but it does stand out in the park. The unfortunate part of it was that there was so much garbage in the park you could not get up close to see them.
I really enjoy this park. It has wonderful breezes and excellent views and plenty of places to sit down and relax. It offers such nice views of the river and as the morning progressed, I started to see more sailboats and water boats out cruising up and down the Hudson River.
While walking down the walkway to Fort Washington Park in 2023, I noticed these flock of seagulls in the cement barrier that I had noticed many times before. I did not realize how detailed they were until I really looked at them. This is what happens when you take your time to observe everything on this walk and not just rush by.
The seagulls wall
The seagulls wall
Passing this part of the park leads to the underpass that you have to walk through to get to Fort Washington Park, so you have a rather strange part of the walk near the treatment plant. If you can travel up to the sports facility, it is worth the trip. It really provides the neighborhood with all sorts of things to do. It also has a great snack shop, and their burgers are really good. When I entered Fort Washington Park, it was in full swing with barbecues and parties going on that afternoon. It is very different in the morning hours when the parks people are there cleaning up from the parties the night before.
Walking through Fort Washington Park during the walk in 2023
The George Washington Bridge in the distance when walking Fort Washington Park
Making my way to the George Washington Bridge
I got to Fort Washington Park around 4:00pm and was able to visit the Little Red Lighthouse which I had visited many times on my trips to the park. With everyone else being on the other side of the island at this point, the park was relatively quiet, and I got to take lots of pictures.
The George Washington Bridge with the Little Red Lighthouse below it. It inspired the children’s book, “The Little Red Lighthouse and the Great Gray Bridge” by author Hildegarde Swift.
The Little Red Lighthouse at Fort Washington Park
I continued on into Fort Washington Park to see the Little Red Lighthouse, which I had not visited in almost three years since my last walk in the neighborhood. Many tourists were by the site just under the George Washington Bridge, taking pictures by the lighthouse and enjoying the sunny weather.
The Little Red Lighthouse had been constructed in 1889 and moved from Sandy Hook, New Jersey in 1917 and moved here in 1921. It was decommissioned in 1948 after the construction of the George Washington Bridge in 1931. What had saved the lighthouse from destruction was the book “The Little Red Lighthouse and the Great Gray Bridge” by author Hildegarde Swift in 1942 (Wiki).
The Little Red Lighthouse and the Great Gray Bridge by Hildegarde Swift
The park was really quiet, so I got to enjoy the views on my own this time. I was able to finally take the pictures that I wanted and take my time exploring the park. It also has one of the few decent bathrooms in this area of the City. I looked downtown the area I had covered and was making very good time on this side of the island.
The view from under the George Washington Bridge from the Little Red Lighthouse to Lower Manhattan
On the way to Inwood Park from Fort Tyron Park, I passed the remnants of the old Tyron Hall estate. There is not much left but the entrance ways across the street and this balcony that looks over the river. You could tell at one time this must have been a very grand estate. It now makes up the framework for Fort Tryon Park where The Cloisters Museum is now located.
The Balcony of the old “Tryon Hall”
When you reach Fort Tyron Park by foot along the Henry Hudson Parkway, you will see two large stone columns that look like the entrance to an estate and then across the street there is a pillared overlook to the Hudson River. These are remnants of the former C.K.G. Billings estate, “Tryon Hall”.
The old entrance to the estate is covered with brush
Mr. Billings, the Chairman of Union Carbide, owned most land of which the park is located and theses small relics are the remains of the great estate. I had never been in this part of the park before and thought it interesting that these pieces of the estate were left.
The archway and drive are still part of the park, and you can see them closer to The Cloisters Museum. The old driveway to the estate is still used inside the park.
The entrance to the old “Tryon Hall” estate in Inwood Park in 2023
I made the long trip up the hill from the park to enter the beginnings of Inwood Park and walked down to Dyckman Street to the Dyckman Street Beach and harbor area. People were out washing their cars and blasting music, and, in the distance, you could hear the yells of the baseball and softball games going on. I walked up the pier to take a better look at the beach and at least this time there was no garbage on it.
The Dyckman Street Beach is a small street of land on the Hudson River. I would not swim in it.
As I made my way through the bottom of Inwood Park, I stopped to take in the view of the Hudson River. I don’t think too many people know of the views from these parks on this part of the island, but they are really amazing.
The beauty of the Hudson River from Inwood Park
I made my way over the foot bridge in Inwood Park to the main part of the path and could not believe how beautiful the views were from the hills. When it rained last year, you could not enjoy it. All everyone wanted to do was get to the pavilion in Inwood Park so that we could dry off a bit and have something to eat and drink. Since I did not get there until 5:00pm, everyone was long gone (they closed this area down by 2:30pm).
I took my time snapping pictures, enjoying the view and admiring the Hudson River and the trees as they swayed by. The park was at its best at this time with the sun right above us. The paths and the lookouts were so picturesque.
The view from the top of the hill at Inwood Park
As I walked up and down the paths of Inwood Park, I took time to enjoy the views that Mother Nature offered me. I figured I was not racing with anyone to the finish line and would have plenty of time to get down to Fraunces Tavern.
Another view from the top of the hill path at Inwood Park
Heading down the pathway
The rock formations that make up the mountain stream
Following the path to the bottom of the hill
When I got to the bottom of the pathways and exited into the lawn area of the park, I saw a familiar giant boulder which is one of the most historic objects on the Island of Manhattan, the Shorakkopoch Rock.
The spot where Manhattan was bought by the Dutch
The rock is the legendary location of where Peter Minuit bought Manhattan from the Reckgawawang Indians for what is today $24.00 of household goods and trinkets.
I bypassed the rest of the park and made my way past all the basketball and softball games and went to the pavilion to see if anyone was left there and everyone was gone. When I looked at the schedule of the map, they had closed up at 2:30pm and it was now 5:00pm. I knew it would be getting dark by 7:45pm and I did not want to be walking through Harlem at night, so I made my way through Inwood and Washington Heights following the path set by the map. I stopped for a quick Coke and made my way down 10th Avenue to Dyckman Street.
All the street vendors were in full swing, selling everything on a busy weekend. I was going to stop at one of the bakeries, but I did not want to sway too far off the path, so I decided to stop at my favorite pizzeria on East 145th Street so I decided to wait to eat lunch there.
On the way down 10th Street, I saw a lot of interesting street art. I don’t know who the taggers were, but their work was very creative.
This was just off 10th Avenue near 203rd Street
I thought this was really creative in the right corner of the painting
I saw this on the side of condo and thought someone was really talented
I made my way past Dyckman Houses, which are always interesting because I keep thinking that someone is watching me from there. I always get that sinking feeling, so I make my way fast this development and get to the park to walk down the path along the East River. I got here by 5:30pm so I was making good progress.
As I walked down the Harlem River Drive pathway in Highbridge Park, the traffic was still really packed as people looked like they were still trying to leave the City for the weekend. At the beginning of the park, many people were having barbecues and birthday parties. All the tables were with families enjoying themselves. Once I passed all of them, the park was quiet. I noticed across the river in the Bronx how much of the waterfront had been built up with new condos and apartment buildings. I could not believe how much the developers were changing the waterfront.
The long curves of the park, the lush woods and rock formations show what was once the former shoreline of this part of the island. From this location it looks alike Inwood Hill Park with clean paths and virgin plantings. From a distance it looks really pretty.
The reality of the park is that if you walk through the park you are faced with the over-grown paths, the graffitied rocks and garbage that parts of the park suffer from. When you walk through the paths on the other side of the park, you see how far the park has gone down and the work that still needs to be done. Abandoned cars and garbage still plaque parts of the park from the park side paths. Still the City is doing a lot to improve the park blocking off parts of te park to renovate it with seedings and new plantings.
The approach to the High Bridge Water Tower in High Bridge Park in 2023
I passed the old High Bridge Water Tower that I heard has finally reopened. The water tower and the bridge are the lasting remnants of the way water used to travel into New York City from upstate in the late 1800’s. The tower was built in 1872 and was part of the old Croton Aqueduct system of moving water into Manhattan.
This part of the park had no activity and, on the path, leading down to the old Polo Grounds there was not much activity. What always makes me nervous is walking around the Polo Ground Houses that run from West 165th Street to about West 155th Street. The complex is a tired looking set up public housing with one building looking exactly like the other and a small patch of green in the middle.
The Polo Ground Tower Housing Complex
All I kept thinking about is the activities that go on there and I zig-zagged my way down the sidewalk until I hit the part of the fence that was covered with trees and vines. Out of site from the prying windows. Ever since I read about the complex on the internet, I have never felt comfortable in this part of the City. This was before I walked all around the complex four years ago when I walked Harlem and didn’t think much about it. I walk around quickly in this neighborhood. Before I crossed the street, I looked at the John T. Brush staircase that used to bring people from the subway to stadium. I thought no one today except a few older New Yorkers would know the significance of this.
The John T. Brush Staircase that used to lead to the Polo Grounds
I crossed the street and walked down Edgecombe Avenue on the upper side of Jackie Robinson Park. On the corner of the edge of the street is the John Hooper Fountain at 155th Street and Edgecombe Avenue. The fountain was designed by architect George Martin Huss and is a ornamental horse fountain and lantern. It was dedicated in 1894 and donated to the park by businessman John Hooper (NYCParks.com/MichaelMinn.net). It was used by the horses for drinking when carriages and horse riding at that time.
The John Hooper Fountain is at the corner of Edgecombe Avenue and 155th Street in 2022
I finally got down to the Polo Grounds Public Housing and was able to get through that area pretty quickly. Hearing rumors about this place as well, I wanted to get past it and get to Edgecombe Avenue as soon as possible. The funny part about this area was pre-Pandemic this neighborhood was really gentrifying with many of the CUNY students moving into this area. It looked to me like it has retrenched a bit for now.
As I passed the benches by Jackie Robinson Park down the steps from this road, I saw small groups of people who made it their business to ignore me or were smoking pot and finding ways to try to hide it. It has been made legal, so I did not care. I finally made it to East 145th Street and made the turn and walked down the street.
East 145th Street has shown some real changes. Pre-Pandemic this was one of the fastest gentrifying areas of the neighborhood with new buildings going up, lots of new and more expensive restaurants and renovations of the old townhouses and brownstones. Having the students go virtual really put an end to it and the neighborhood has retrenched for now. There is still renovations going on but not like before where I would see CUNY students on their blankets in Jackie Robinson Park. That must have freaked out the neighborhood. CUNY will soon dominate this neighborhood again with a new apartment complex they want to build on the corner of East 145th Street and Sixth Avenue (Malcolm X Boulevard).
I stopped for a quick lunch at King Pizza of Harlem at 110 West 145th Street for a snack. I knew that I wanted a chopped cheese for dinner as I had for the last two years but again, I was starved. When I walked in, there was the same owner in the same place where I ordered my lunch. I just sat and relaxed.
The cheese pizza is excellent. The sauce is so well spiced and topped with loads of mozzarella cheese. The slice was rather large and made a great snack. It was just pleasant to sit down and relax.
The slices at King Pizza are excellent! Don’t miss their delicious Cheese Pizza
The relaxation did not last very long as there was some big commotion outside the restaurant and I saw about four police cars surround this group of kids who started to run in every direction. There were kids of all ages yelling and running across the street in front of the restaurant. No one in the restaurant flinched at the whole thing so I figured the owner had seen all this before and was prepared if someone came into the pizzeria to cause problems. It was like watching a movie as the police cars pulled up in front of the pizzeria and groups of kids screaming at one another as they passed the window. That was my excitement for the afternoon.
As I made my way down Fifth Avenue from 143rd Street, I stopped again to look at the obelisk that is located on a tiny triangle near the corner of Fifth Avenue and West 142nd Street. The Monument is the 369 Infantry Regiment Memorial dedicated to the all-black unit that fought so valiantly in World War I with the Fourth French Army. It sits on a small triangle as you are crossing the bridge to get to the riverfront promenade. I don’t think many people even notice it.
I passed the memorial and walked across the street to the bridge that led to Harlem River Park, a small stretch of river promenade that goes to East 135th Street. Since the park looked like it was getting a small renovation, I got off earlier at East 138th Street and walked down Madison Avenue to East 135th Street where I saw the same homeless guy from last year panhandling people coming off FDR Drive. He was still standing in the same dangerous location where he could be hit by a car at any time. I could not believe he was still in the same spot at the same time as last year. Things don’t change.
The Street Art at Harlem River Park that I admired the year before
Words of Wisdom on the wall in Harlem River Park
The paintings on the wall at Harlem River Park
The close up shot of the paintings
I made a turn into the courtyard of the Lincoln Houses to see the statute of Abraham Lincoln with Child statute at 2120-2122 Madison Avenue. No one was around so I was able to take some good pictures of the statue. The last time I had stopped to see it a group of kids just gave me a funny look when I entered the public housings walkway, so I did not venture in. This time around there was no one there and I got this excellent picture of the statue.
Lincoln and Child at 2120-2122 Madison Avenue in the Lincoln Houses in 2023
The statue was designed by artist Charles Keck. Mr. Keck was an American born New York artist who studied at the National Academy of Design and the Arts Students League of New York. He was best known for his work on statues and monuments.
I got down Fifth Avenue rather quickly and made my way to East 128th Street where I walked to Second Avenue. It was funny how everyone did everything they could to ignore me. It was really funny. All the people on the street watched me through the corner of their eyes but did everything they could to turn away from me. It was very subtle.
On the way down the street, I passed P.S. 30 and its wonderful painting on the side of the school. I thought the kids were really creative. The schools were all closed today, and the area was really quiet. When I walked this neighborhood about five years ago during the school year this place is bustling with kids and parents especially with after school programs.
The painting on the side PS 30
As I turned the corner and made my way down Second Avenue, I passed the Taino Towers which look like they are still under a renovation of the complex. Still, you can see this wonderful mural from a distance on the side of the building.
Artist Don Rimx painted a mural of Nuyorocan poet Jesus ‘Tato’ Laviera. The painting had been unveiled in 2017 (long after my visit to the neighborhood) and 123rd Street was renamed after the poet (Street Art NYC).
The mural of Jesus ‘Tato’ Laviera at Taito Towers at 122nd Street and Second Avenue
Mr. Rimx was born and raised in San Juan, Puerto Rico and in 2009 moved to Brooklyn and then in 2014 to Florida. He graduated from Central High School of Visual Arts and Escuela Des Arts Plasticas. He is known for his use of styles in art and culture and known for his murals (Artist Bio).
I crossed Second Avenue to the Wagner Houses complex. People were having all sorts of picnics and barbecues inside and outside the Wagner Houses. The lawns of this complex are always busy. The funny part of this neighborhood again like other sections of Harlem before the Pandemic was in full gentrification mode.
All the brownstones were under scaffolding when I passed the last time, and they were still there. All the new buildings around the Wagner Houses started look old and it was getting seedy again. It did not look like that before the Pandemic.
The Wagner Houses
I passed the monument to Robert Wagner Sr. which had not been damaged during the riots in 2020. I guess people had other things to worry about at the time. It still stands like a guard on the complex.
The Robert Wagner Sr. sculpture in the Wagner Playground by artist Georg John Lober
Georg John Lober was an American artist from Chicago who studied at the Beaux-Arts Institute of Design and worked for the New York City Municipal Art Commission for seventeen years.
Pleasant Avenue was once home to the East Harlem “Little Italy” and the ‘Dance of the Giglio’ takes place here every August outside the Shrine Church of Our Lady of Mount Carmel (See Day Eighty-Four The Feast of Our Lady of Carmel and the Dancing of the Giglio). Now it is becoming a gentrified neighborhood and I saw many people eating in outdoor cafes or shopping at the local mall.
I stopped for lunch in both 2020, 2021,2022 and 2023 at Blue Sky Deli (now Chopped Cheese Delicious) at 2135 First Avenue for a Chopped Cheese. I swear I make any excuse to come up here and have that sandwich.
The Chopped Cheese Delicious (Blue Sky Deli) has a cult following
The ‘Chopped Cheese’ is a cult sandwich made up of two chopped hamburgers topped with American cheese, chopped lettuce and tomato with salt, pepper and spices and then pressed. It is like heaven with every bite. I took my sandwich into Thomas Jefferson Park, which is currently under renovation and ate my sandwich. After I was finished, I had the energy to continue the walk downtown.
I stopped in Thomas Jefferson Park to have my dinner and people watch. There were parties all over the park at this time. It was just about 6:45pm when I sat down for dinner and could see the sun patterns changing. I took my time to eat but I wanted to get on my way. I wanted to be at Midtown before it got dark. I enjoyed every bite of my sandwich.
The Chopped Cheese Sandwich at Blue Sky Deli (Harlem Taste Deli)
The delicious Chopped Cheese Sandwich
Before I left Thomas Jefferson Park, I came across another piece of art that I had not noticed on my many visits to the park. The sculpture located in the middle of the park is entitled “Tomorrow’s Wind” by artist Melvin Edwards. The sculpture is made of welded steel and is tilted so that it reflects the sun. The piece was placed in the park in 1995 (NYCParks.org).
Mr. Edwards is an American born artist from Texas. He is known for his known for his abstract steel sculptures. He graduated with a BFA from University of Southern California and studied at the Los Angeles Art Institute.
I left the park around 7:00pm and made my way down the East Side Promenade. By this point, I figured everyone who had done the walk was all already down at Fraunces Tavern. My goal was to get there by 10:00am but to walk the entire East Side in three hours would be a lot. I was determined to get the job done.
The only problem with doing this walk at this time of night is that all the public bathrooms are closed by 6:00pm so it made for an uncomfortable walk after a while. I was lucky I went to the bathroom before I left Jefferson Park, but I knew by the time I got to Carl Schulz Park on East 81st Street the bathrooms might be closed.
I was passing Hell Gate before getting to Carl Schulz Park
When I arrived at Carl Schulz Park, the bathrooms were closed, and I found out most of the park’s bathrooms would be closed all the way down the East Side. I knew this would eventually be a problem. For right now, it would be smooth sailing down the East Side, and I was making good time.
As twilight hit, I saw the lights come on at Roosevelt Island
Lighthouse Park on Roosevelt Island stood in the distance.
The trip down the East side to York Avenue via the promenade was not problem and then down to John Jay Park at East 78th Street and then down York Avenue to Sutton Place and then down to East 53rd Street to First Avenue and again smooth sailing. Then it really started to get dark outside as it was now almost 9:00pm and the streetlights came on. This is when the trip became interesting.
The East Side Promenade by the United Nations at 42nd Street was closed, and I could not get in. So, I had to walk down to East 35th Street and take the East Side Promenade for about two blocks and then I was back on First Avenue. This is when the fun began. With all the promenades closed for renovations, I made my way down the main roads, and I tried to get to the parks lining the river.
The last picture I took of the lower East Side before all the fun began
Later when I got home, I reread the emails sent to me by Shorewalkers and did not realize that all these promenades were closed and there would be people to direct us. At this time of night, they were long gone, and I was on my own. I ran into two guys at that I had seen get on at East 110th Street when I left Jefferson Park and saw them again at the East 23rd Street entrance to the promenade there. It was fenced off and being landscaped. He asks me, “What do we do now?” “Head South and walk down,” I said as I made my way what I found out later on was Avenue C. I walked Avenue C by myself in the dark until I hit East 13th Street and figured I would go east and head to the promenade from there. I did not realize the whole thing was closed.
I found myself walking down Avenue D from East 13th Street until I hit East Houston Street eleven blocks down the street. This is when I felt like Griffin Dunne in the movie “After Hours”. The walk from here could not be more surreal.
This is the way the rest of the evening went for me!
If you don’t know what Avenue D is like in ‘Alphabet City’ in the East Village, it is where people used to and probably still do go to to score drugs. Walking past the Con Ed Power plant at 9:30pm at night was bad enough with how dark it was but to walk next to the projects being 6:3 in a green polo and a number stuck to my shorts, I must have stuck out to these people, and they seemed to disappear. I was oblivious to how quiet the streets were getting until I looked at the street sign and realized I was on Avenue D. I did everything I could to walk as fast as I could down the street without making it look obvious.
I was parched at this point, and I needed something to drink, and I had to stop and get a Coke. I stopped in a bodega to something to drink and did I get a look from the guy at the counter. He looked at me like ‘where did you come from?” Then he went back to the couple arguing about the price a pack of water. I bought the Coke and was drinking it outside when two very young NYPD officers were standing a few doors down watching me. They said hello to me and I said hi back. The looks on their faces were interesting too.
I finally got to East Houston Street and tried to walk to the end of it toward the park but again there was not entrance to the park anywhere. I gave up with that and decided to head south to get around this area and get to the South Steet Seaport. This is when the more fun began because I had not been in this part of the East Village since 1994, I did not know the street names and my Google Maps on my phone was not working. So, I took the first street, which was Baruch Street and walked down that. Talk about desolate.
There was no one on the street and walked down this gloomy dark street until there was a section where the lights were on, and I walked faster. I finally made it to Delancy Street and finally started to recognize the street names. I saw the lights of the bridge and figured to go the other way. Don’t ask me how, I must have gotten mixed up in the darkness and walked down Ridge Street and ended up near the police station. I then did a turnaround and found myself walking down Broome which I did not realize was Broome and walked north.
Somehow, I ended up walking north on Avenue C and then got caught up in all the bars, where at this time at night drunken college undergraduates were spilling out of all the bars and restaurants and had to dodge them for a few blocks walking fast and ended back up on Houston Street. I was completely confused by this and had to get my bearings straight because I had just walked a few blocks north. I then walked across 2nd Street and ended up on the bar scene on Avenue B not realizing that I was there. More drunk college students surrounded me and then I walked south and finally ended up back at Delancy Street.
I walked to the end of Delancy Street to see if there was an entrance to the promenade but there was nothing here either, so I walked down Colombia Street and finally reached Grand Street and knew where I was, so I walked west and made it to East Broadway. Knowing now it was after 10:00pm and walking down by the river would not be safe (like walking down Avenue D and all through the Public Housing Projects was), walked the length of East Broadway to get to Chinatown, which the fringes have been gentrified and had to endure more drunk college students and hipsters.
I walked down south to Pearl Street and then to the City Hall area going south. It got quiet again and then made my way down Pearl Street to Water Street and finally got into Fraunces Tavern at 11:30pm. I could not believe I made it dodging homeless people in the shadows, freaked out cops and drunken college students only to get to Fraunces Tavern and everyone being gone.
I talked to two bartenders and both of them looked at me like I was nuts. The first one did not know what I was talking about when I asked if any representatives were left from The Great Saunter walk. The second said there were a few people in the bar who had been on the walked but could not tell me who was who. So, I went to the bathroom and left.
That was not the worst. Since Maricel could not get the room another night, I had to walk back to the hotel, grab my things which were in storage and the door was locked. I had to show the guard my old room key, grab my luggage and make my way back to the Oculus and take the subway back to Port Authority to take the 12:50am bus back home. Well, the A and E were not working that night because of repairs so I had to take the J to 14th Street and then take the A which was running on a different line back to Port Authority.
It gets even better because the 12:50am bus never came and the 1:00am bus left from the basement door not the third floor. Everyone who was waiting with me upstairs now had to go to the basement to catch the 1:20am bus. I made the bus lugging all my luggage with me. I did not get home until two in the morning, and this is after 33 miles around the island through all the craziness of the last two hours.
I got to bed at 3:00am and did not wake up until 9:45am the next morning. The silver lining was I survived and walked my fifth time around the island and completed The Great Saunter after all that. I will attempt it again in the summer.
Another great walk on The Great Saunter! I don’t think Griffen Dunne could have done better!
This is one difficult neighborhood to walk around in. Most of the upper part of the neighborhood is covered with unpassable roads and sidewalks leading into the Lincoln Tunnel. And just to remind you that you are entering the tunnel and to be careful, there are plenty of traffic cops from the NYPD watching your every move. There are unpassable sidewalks closer to the tunnel that will have them wondering what you are up to. I realized that when I was walking around from West 40th to West 41st by Eleventh Avenue. Be careful.
Friday afternoon was one of the nicest days of the week with the sun shining and clear skies. The weather really broke, and I could walk around and catch some sunshine while I was walking. The convention that was going on at the Javits Center was on its last afternoon and there were not a lot of people milling around Eleventh and Twelve Avenues. Closer to West 34th Street it was mostly construction workers attending to the new buildings, tourists and locals shopping at Hudson Yards Mall and taking selfies in the park and people rushing to take the subways. For the most part the rest of the streets were quiet.
As I said before, Dyer Avenue leads to the entrance of the Lincoln Tunnel to New Jersey starting at the entrance of West 34th Street near the Webster Apartments and when walking down West 35th Street from Twelve Avenue you will see cars whizzing by at crazy speeds who stop suddenly when they realize that they can’t go faster.
Unless you have a reason to walk around this neighborhood in that you live there, this is not the most walkable part of the City. You will be dodging a lot of traffic especially at rush hour and this can start as early as 5:00pm.
I got off to a late start this afternoon after a morning of running errands, so I got into Manhattan at 3:00pm. Since I had wanted to visit the New York Transit Museum at Grand Central Terminal for my blog, VisitingaMuseum.com, first (see link to blog below), I did not start the walk until 4:00pm. I pretty much had the streets to myself, and each street had its own unique aspects.
The New York Transit Museum Gallery at 89 East 42nd Street
Walking down West 35th Street, you have to start the walk along Eleventh Avenue in front of the Javits Center. The center pretty much was quiet that afternoon with mostly security wrapping up whatever convention finished that day. Bella Abzug Park was still being finished in some parts of the neighborhood and the construction workers were taking a break in groups when I walked around the park.
Bella Abzug Park is still not totally finished but has become a meeting place for residents, tourists and workers for this area and has some interesting playgrounds for kids and plantings with seating for everyone else to sit and relax. It is one of the only green areas in the neighborhood.
The Bella Abzug Park, which was being finished at the time, I walked through the three sections from block to block. Part of the park is being renovated but the other parts look like they are ready to open in the warmer weather with cafes and seating. The park spreads over three blocks that are fully landscaped.
Bella Abzug Park with the Hudson Yards rising like Oz in the background during the summer months (NYCParks.org). The park was named after famous activist and politician Bella Abzug.
Mostly still under construction, Hudson Yards buildings are still rising and not yet finished so there are cars and trucks and scaffolding everywhere so be careful when you are walking around the streets of the complex. It is rising like the magically land of Oz and when Hudson Yards is finished, it is going to be quite a site. A series of office buildings and apartments with a beautiful shopping complex that will rival anything in Midtown.
Be careful though as you are walking towards Ninth Avenue as this is the entrance to the Lincoln Tunnel entry ramps and the traffic is crazy all day long and the drivers are not watching what they are doing most of the time.
The McKenzie works at West 35th Street
The McKenzie works with Midtown in the back at West 35th Street
Walking back from Ninth Avenue I came across a tiny park behind a fence and was able to peer inside this small playground. ‘Bob’s Park’ is a tiny spot of refuge on this busy street with a small fenced in playground and park. The park was developed by the Clinton Housing Development Company (Clinton Housing Development Company).
The park is named after Robert Kennedy, a third-generation resident of the community who was very active in the neighborhood affairs. The park is located next to 454 West 35th Street where his grandmother lived. The park is very popular with the neighborhood (HMDB.org).
Bob’s Park at 454 West 35th Street
Right down the block is the Nero Wolfe Plaque, based on the mythical private detective Nero Wolfe by author Rex Stout. The mythical author’s home was supposed to be located on West 35th Street near Ninth Avenue and in the middle by the Hudson River (The Wolfe Pack).
The plaque on the building at 454 West 35th Street
All along the cement barriers that lead to the Lincoln Tunnel from West 34th through West 36th Streets is the colorful and creative art of artist Ashley-Simone McKenzie. This really is the bright spot of being stuck in traffic as you enter the tunnel.
The McKenzie work at Dyer Avenue leading to the Lincoln Tunnel
Where bridge covers the highway and down Dryer Avenue, there is an interesting art entitled “Art by Ashley”, which is a colorful display on the cement barriers protecting the road. The work was done by New York based artist Ashley-Simone McKenzie.
The beautiful heart painting outside the church welcomes the people here. I could not see the signature that well to see who painted it.
I walked down West 36th Street to Ninth Avenue to a small park that I passed when walking the borders of the Garment District a few months earlier. This little park called “The Canoe” Plaza is part of the Hudson Yards/Hell’s Kitchen Alliance and is at the corner of Ninth Avenue and West 37th Street. This was the creation of the design team of Design Wild and was convert the block to a flowery heaven right at the entrance of the Lincoln Tunnel (Hudson Yards Alliance/Design Wild).
Jordan Baker-Caldwell is an American born artist from New York City and is the youngest artist in the history of New York to have a permanent public sculpture. The artist’s work has been noted as evoking questions about gravity, structure, balance and the human body in relation to space (Artist’s bio).
Please watch the video of the artist describing his work in the park
This little park defines how small spaces are being used in Manhattan for the pleasure of the residents of that neighborhood. It shows what a little creativity can create in a tiny area right next to an extremely street.
West 37th Street was mostly dodging cars as the afternoon got busier and the traffic around the arteries to the tunnel got busier. I have noticed that people have gone back to honing their horns for no reason again. That had disappeared for almost twenty years. Probably the result of COVID frustration.
When walking down West 38th Street, you will be walking over an elevated walkway over all the entrances to the tunnel. In the midst of all the building and the new neighborhood rising around it, is the firehouse Engine 34/ Ladder 21 which sits like a holdover to another era of the neighborhood. Its solid brick building is surrounded by the encroaching Hudson Yards development with its shiny towers and office complexes that it protects. Here is a section of the City that has changed night and day in twenty-five years.
Ladder 21 was founded in 1890 and when the Lincoln Tunnel was built the original building was knocked down and the new building with Engine 34 was built in 1939. It is one of the busiest houses in Manhattan (9/11 Lesson). I stopped to admire the memorial that the house created in honor of the members lost on 9/11. As a fellow fire fighter, it really touched me.
Watch where you are walking when travelling down West 39th Street from Ninth to Twelve Avenues because like the rest of the neighborhood, the roads got busier during the rush hour. It got harder to walk around this part of the neighborhood.
One small patch of green is located in the neighborhood surprisingly is Astro’s Dog Run, a tiny little park that is members only near the entrance of the Lincoln Tunnel at Tenth Avenue and West 39th Street. This tiny stretch of property offers a safe place for neighborhood pooches and their masters a place to stretch out and run around.
Years ago, I have known it as a Community Garden, but things change over the years. Still, it is one of the only patches of green in this part of the neighborhood and a gathering place for dog lovers from the community. They have extended the green down the block as well.
The Astro Dog Run at West 39th Street was a community garden at one time
Be careful when walking under Dyer Avenue at the West 40th Street overpass as there were some not too legal activities going on under the streets after dark. Just walk fast and ignore everyone. Be careful when crossing the street as traffic is coming in all directions. Walking down the street towards Twelve Avenue, there are parts of the sidewalk you will not be able walk. That and the traffic cops will stop you from walk around the street. There are cars everywhere.
The most interesting part of walking down West 41st Street is the St. Raphel’s Catholic Church Croation Parish at 502 West 41st Street. The church is the last of the holdovers of the old neighborhood as the area quickly changes around it.
St. Raphael’s Catholic Church Croation Parish at 502 West 41st Street
St. Raphel’s Catholic Church was founded in 1886 and the church started construction in 1901. The church was designed by architect George H. Streeton in the French Gothic style. The church has been the seat of the Croatian parish since 1974 and services are performed in both English and Croatian Wiki).
The church is one of the most beautiful buildings left as a reminder of this neighborhood is reinventing itself for the modern era. Detailed and gorgeous architecture like this is a testament to a time when craftsmanship was part of the building process and that these buildings were meant to last. Take time to admire the detail work from across the street.
I spent the last part of the afternoon as I finished my walk watching the traffic cops’ direct traffic out of Manhattan and back to New Jersey. It fascinated me that all the years that I have come in and out of the City, I never walked around the very neighborhood that houses the building that thousands of New Jerseyan’s travel through everyday. Now that I have walked all around it, I will look at it differently every time I travel in and out of the Manhattan knowing all its secrets. It is a unique neighborhood that will keep changing over the next ten years.
I stopped at 9th Avenue Gourmet Deli at 480 Ninth Avenue for a sandwich (See my review on TripAdvisor) that evening. The food here is wonderful and very reasonable. I had one of their Chicken Salad Club Sandwiches ($10.95) and it was delicious. Layers of chunky chicken salad with crisp bacon on toasted bread hit the spot after a long walk around the neighborhood.
9th Avenue Gourmet Deli at 480 Ninth Avenue should not be missed
There are some stores in New York City that just stand out for their uniqueness because of the product they sell or their history with the City or both. Little Pie Company is one of those stores.
I had heard of the store since its opening years ago and had never visited it. When I was walking the Hell’s Kitchen/Clinton neighborhood for my blog, “MywalkinManhattan.com”, I finally came across this friendly little pie shop just off the Theater District. Since I remembered that the founder was a actor who was trying to earn money while he was in between jobs I thought it was fitting for its location.
Since COVID, the pies are now individually wrapped for purchase and did not come just out…
I have stopped in at the Hotel Chocolat a few of times over the last couple of months and have found that the store has the most amazing candies, chocolates and ice cream creations. The store had been closed during the COVID pandemic but reopened with a nice manager with a big smile and hearty greeting. I have never been so warmly welcomed to a store before.
I had been staying in Manhattan over the Spring Break, working on updating my blog on ‘Midtown East’ for my sister site “MywalkinManhattan.com” and revisited the store again. There were all sorts of beautifully boxed chocolates for sale for the upcoming Easter holidays as well as every day candies.
The candies here are creatively made and packaged with all sorts…
As part of my tour of Historic Bars and Pubs on Day One Hundred and Thirteen with the Cornell Club on May 9th, 2018, we toured the famous ‘Stone Street’ one of the original paved streets of Manhattan. You will not find architecture or pavings like this left in New York City. Here and there are streets or buildings that represent these times during the early to mid-1800’s but they are few and scattered in remote spots all over the island. Here the street still represents a different era of Manhattan.
The stores in the 90’s had been either boarded up or were used but in horrible shape. During the business hours not too many people inhabited this area of Lower Manhattan and it was ignored. The neighboring South Street Seaport was being transformed in the mid 80’s into a type of historic theme…
I visited the Van Cortlandt House Museum for the their Annual Christmas Decorated House event. The mansion was decorated for Christmas in the 1700’s so it was not overdone as it would during the Victorian times. The front of the house entrance was done with sprays of holly, mistletoe above the door and garlands of pine around the banister and fireplaces. The windows had candles in them and the dining room was set for Christmas luncheon in post-Revolutionary War era.
Van Cortlandt House for Christmas is Post-Revolutionary War
While most of the house is represented during the Dutch…