Tag Archives: West Place Chinese Food

Day One Hundred and Five: Walking the Avenues of the Upper West Side between Central Park West and Riverside Drive from West 84th to West 72nd Streets March 12-April 8th, 2018

I have found that walking the Avenues of the Upper West Side to be much easier than the Upper East Side. There are less blocks to walk and this side of the island is smaller in space than the middle of the Upper East Side which begins to jut out on that part of the island.

Each Avenue on the Upper West Side has it’s own uniqueness to it. Columbus and Amsterdam Avenues are more of a shopping districts with Amsterdam Avenue having most of the quirky restaurants and old time stores. Broadway is rapidly changing was the stores of the 80’s and 90’s are quickly loosing their leases and with the rents jacked up is home to more chains now more than ever. It seems that another new chain restaurant and store opens up every month. Even here, I have watched the chain stores loose their leases and go away.

West End Avenue is strictly residential and the blocks between it and Riverside Drive hold a treasure trove old stone townhouses, brownstones and marble mansions with the graceful cravings, ornate stairs and potted plants outside the homes. There is an immense pride in this part of the neighborhood and I swear probably not much as changed since the turn of the last century.

I was walking up from Soup Kitchen that afternoon and after a long day on the Bread Station holding off questions of why we do not have any pastry (none was donated) and the lack of raisin bagels (again none were donated) and why we no longer use butter for the bread (the peanut butter was donated), it was off for a long walk to the Upper West Side. Being closer to midtown, I have been walking more often than using the subway.

I have walked Central Park West, both sides many times and the biggest changes I have seen in the buildings here is that most of the them are being sandblasted back to life as new owners and residents have been rapidly converting the Upper West Side into the new Upper East Side. The new residents seem much richer, less liberal and a whole lot younger. I have never seen so many baby carriages and little dogs since walking the heart of the Upper East Side. At least here, the dogs seem less spoiled (with the multiple grooming places for dogs, the B & B for Dogs (upscale kennel) and places for doggies treats and clothes, dogs get better treated than the homeless).

As you walk up Central Park West, the first thing you see it the statue dedicated to the members of the U.S.S. Maine that was mysteriously bombed February 15th, 1898 which started the Spanish-American War. The War started in April 25th, 1898 and would last eight months. After a series of conflicts due to the War, the Philippines and Cuba gained their Independence and we got Guam and Puerto Rico as part of the deal.

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U.S.S. Maine Statue in Central Park

The statue, designed by sculpture Attilio Piccirilli and Charles Keck, with the help of architect Harold Van Buren Magonigle and was dedicated in May 30th, 1913. The statue was dedicated to the 261 people lost when the U.S.S. Maine exploded in Havana harbor in February of 1898. This started the Spanish-American War in April of 1898 (Wiki).

Really take time to look at this statue for its details, its plaques that line the base and the detail work. It unfortunately is now used as a bench for most people who attend the Christmas and Farmer’s Markets that now line the base of the statue. I don’t think most people today know what the Spanish-American War of 1898 was or its significance in our country’s history. If you say, “Remember the Maine” today, most people would go ‘huh’?

As I walked up Central Park West along the park side, you will see the landscape lined with trees, lawns, parks and massive rock formations which seem more prevalent ten blocks up. These formations are leftovers of the last Ice Age and it is amazing to know that these will dragged for hundreds of miles as the ice moved.  I have noticed more of these rock formations on the Upper Upper West Side and in Washington Heights and it is interesting to see our connections still to the last Ice Age.

Being the time of year that it is, the whole park was winter hibernation but people using the park on a 46 degree day brings life to almost everything. The kids dominated the playgrounds after school and tourist and locals alike were walking dogs and chatting along the paths. Even in the colder months, Central Park is always busy.

When I reached the border of the neighborhood at West 72nd Street, I passed the famous Dakota Apartment Building that dominated the corner of West 72nd Street and Central Park West. Really look up at the detail work of this building. Built between 1880-1884, the building was designed by the firm of Henry Janeway Hardenbergh, the same firm that designed the Plaza Hotel. The name ‘The Dakota’ some feel came from the isolated location so far uptown at the time it was build in that the Dakota Territories were so isolated from the country at the time.

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The Dakota Apartments

The building is currently under renovation but you can still peek into the side of the building to see the old courtyard where the carriages used to drop residents off and the apartments themselves were designed around the French layouts at the time with large ceilings and rooms that flowed into one another. The resident listing is a Who’s Who of the entertainment and arts industry and the filming of the movie ‘Rosemary’s Baby’ was done in the front of the building as well as the death of musician, John Lennon in the early 80’s.

As you pass the beauty of The Dakota,  West 72nd Street has an array of architectural styles of brownstones and marble homes lining the street. The carving of the stone is work that you no longer see in design and so much of the neighborhood is under scaffolding as new owners are sandblasting these buildings back to their original beauty.

Continuing the walk up Central Park West, you continue to pass many beautiful and graceful stone apartment buildings with beautiful views of the park that are going through their own renovations.

At West 77nd Street, you are at the Museum Row of the Upper West Side with the New York Historical Society at 170 Central Park West and the American Museum of Natural History located on Central Park West and West 79th Street.

New York Historical Society.jpg

New York Historical Society

If you reading this blog post in 2018, please remember to stop by the museum to see both the ‘Unseen Ocean’  and the ‘Senses’ exhibitions that just opened. The ‘Unseen Ocean’ explores the unknown deep of our oceans and the new species that we are discovering in the deep. It takes a look at the new development of equipment where we can explore deeper than before and the new discoveries that pop up with every trip. The ‘Senses’ exhibition explores how we react to the environment around us. These can be seen with the museum day pass.

As you round West 84th Street and down the block to Columbus Avenue, really look up around you and see the faces following you down the block to the next Avenue. The carvings of faces on the buildings stare out into the abyss or look to one another. You won’t really notice it until you really look at the detail work of each building. You will be doing a lot of stopping and staring between Central Park West and Columbus Avenue.

Back in 1984 to 1987, during the first really big gentrification of the Upper West Side, Columbus Avenue was a big deal, Everything from 59th Street to about 86th Street was being sandblasted back to life and all sorts of new restaurants and shops were opening up left and right around the American Museum of Natural History. Stores like the DDL Food Show (Dino De Larentis’s Gourmet Shop), Penny Whistle Toys and the infamous Museum Café (where the Shake Shack is located now) were the topic of conversation when they opened. After the crash of 1987, most of these places had closed or where long gone and by the mid-90’s, the whole block  was changing again as all the expensive stores and restaurants started to leave.

Today Columbus Avenue between 72nd Street to 84th Street is starting to go through another change. Instead of all the expensive places kicking the reasonable places out, many store fronts have gone dark and sit empty. This is a plague that is going all not just all over the Upper West Side but all over the City. Many old line businesses from the 70’s , 80’s and even the 90’s that I have seen for years, like Isabella’s Restaurant, on the corner of Columbus Avenue and 78th Street, where my dad and I had many a meal for his birthday and for Father’s Day, shut it’s doors about a year ago and now sits empty.

Columbus Avenue is now in a state of flux with newer more expensive places opening up here and there. I don’t think it has dawned on these landlords that not everyone wants a $16.00 hamburger. In the lower 70’s of Columbus Avenue, it is more and more chain stores and even they seem like they are struggling. You can have only so many stores selling the same merchandise that is currently on sale at Macy’s while the restaurants have similar menu’s. The rents are forcing, from my opinion, the merchants away from their creativity to what is safe.

All along stretches of Columbus Avenue, especially closer to the American Museum of Natural History, the store fronts are mostly empty and looking at the current prices to buy an apartment in the neighborhood, you can see the reason why.  Apartments are going for what their East Side counterparts are going for (or maybe a little less depending on the street). The street is once again changing from more expensive fashion to I am not sure what but I can’t wait to see what happens next on Columbus Avenue between West 72nd Street and West 84th Street.

With these changes comes the changes at the museum’s as well. The American Museum of Natural History is ever renovating displays or launching new shows. “Unseen Ocean’s”, the story of the newly explored deep, is resulting in long lines at the museum. New ways to explore the bottom of the ocean with nautical looking machines that even Jules Vern could not have thought of are finding new species and showing the food network of the bottom of the sea. This museum has woken up in the last ten years.

The New York Historical Society is a far cry from what it was fifteen years ago when no one entered the musty halls of that relic. Today more and more innovative programs are opening and they even have an upscale coffee whose prices are ridiculous even for a museum.

Both museums have been sandblasted back to their original glory, have been renovated and are showing innovative programming that rivals anything of their East Side counterparts.

Amsterdam Avenue I have always felt feels like real New York with the funky stores, small independent restaurants and pocket parks that line interwoven parts of the neighborhood.

I had lunch this afternoon at Harriet’s Kitchen at 502 Amsterdam Avenue for one of their famous ‘Fried Chicken Sandwiches”. Trust me, it lived up to the hype I saw online. The sandwich was $9.95 with hand cut French Fries and a Coke made a total of $11.95 and it was worth every bite.

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Harriet’s Kitchen (now closed)

This sandwich was the perfect food item for my walk as I needed the protein. The sandwich was two large chicken breasts marinated in buttermilk and then dredged in a cornmeal crust and then fried golden crisp. It was crunchy and savory in every bite. It was one of the best chicken sandwiches I had ever eaten. The fries were good as well as they were cooked to a golden crisp as well. It was accompanied by a spicy remoulade sauce and sour pickles which added an extra kick to the sandwich. The service was really friendly and even though the place is a little dumpy, the food is no reflection of that. I have not eaten chicken this good since my tour of Harlem.

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Harriet’s Kitchen Chicken Sandwich

Right next to Harriet’s Kitchen is West Side Kids at 498 Amsterdam Avenue, so I got a chance to tour the store again which was stocked to the gills with new toys. Across the street from Harriet’s Kitchen is the Urban Assembly Green Space Garden at 145 84th Street, that the students maintain on the corner of West 84th Street and Amsterdam Avenue. This garden is used by the students for the growing season and at the height of the season they sell their fruits and vegetables to the public. Take some time to walk around this urban oasis when it is in season.

Amsterdam Avenue is like Lexington Avenue in that it is a nice mix of stores and restaurants that are more affordable to the average New Yorker. This is beginning to change in the low 70’s but like most of the neighborhood is a state of flux. I am beginning to see the same amount of empty storefronts on this Avenue as well.

Broadway in this part of the island is designed as a French Boulevard with landscaping down an strip of island down the middle of the road with benches at each island stopover. As I had mentioned in my observation further uptown, this part of Broadway was designed for upscale living with grand apartment buildings.

The Ansonia Apartments at 2101-2119 Broadway was built in 1899 by architect Paul E.M. Duboy in the traditional Beaux Arts style in the Victorian Age was a residential hotel. The detail work on the outside is gorgeous with all sorts of statuary, carvings and iron work and topped with a mansard roof. The building has housed many famous people in the arts, music and politics. You can peek inside the courtyard to see where the carriages once let the residents off similar in design to The Dakota further west (Wiki).

Ansonia Apartments

Ansonia Apartments

The Apthrop Apartments at 2201-2219 Broadway was built between 1906-1908 by architects Clinton & Russell for William Waldorf Astor and takes up the whole block between Broadway and West End Avenue. The building was designed in the Italian Renaissance Revival style and when you peek inside the building you can see the courtyard where carriages once a upon a time used to drop the residents off. Over-sized limestone sculptures representing the Four Seasons stand above the ventral barrel-vaulted entrance with wrought iron gates feature a pair of gazelle heads (Wiki).

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Apthrop Apartments

The Astor Apartments at 235 West 75th Street tops Broadway with the grand apartment buildings and is currently going under a major renovation and restoration. The building is currently under scaffolding (as seems the whole neighborhood) so it hides the beauty of the building. The stores below are changing as well as even Barney’s has moved out of the neighborhood.

The building was developed in 1909 for William Waldorf Astor II by architects Clinton & Russell for the two eight story wings and the firm of Peabody, Wilson & Brown did the taller tower. The beauty in this building is in the simplicity of its elegance and the detail work along the roof.

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Astor Apartments

When walking up Broadway, note that this area was built at a time when the wealthy were scaling down their lives at the turn of the last century and this form of luxury was becoming the norm. By the 60’s and 70’s, these grand apartment buildings like the rest of the neighborhood got rundown but currently all are on the process of renovation or their completion have lead the apartments to be reconnected back to their four to five room layout.

The stores along Broadway have given way to a commercial district of chain stores but still has lots of ‘gems’ lining Broadway. Rents have risen so much in the area that a lot of these stores and restaurants might face displacement in the future. Like the rest of the city, there is a cost of doing business in NYC.

Some of the most famous stores are the great purveyors of food the most well-known being Fairway at 2131 Broadway and Zabar’s at 2245 Broadway . These are more than just grocery stores, they are institutions in New York.

Fairway supermarket, which now has branches outside the city, is stocked from ceiling to floor with everything you need to fill a kitchen. When I walked through it, it seemed more like a traditional grocery store, fancy but functional loaded with every brand imaginable. It is fun to to walk around the tight aisles and look at the merchandise. They also have a nice prepared food section with everything you need for a picnic in the park.

Zabar’s though, is a true New York institution. I have been coming here since the 1970’s when my mother’s bible for food was both Gourmet and New York Magazines. Anytime we went into the city, Zabar’s was a place we visited especially if she saw it one of those two magazines.

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Zabar’s Cafe

Zabar’s is broken down into sections each with their own mouthwatering smells and like Fairway, lined from top to bottom with delicacies. Their cheese department has the most wonderful aroma when walking through it and the bakery section always smells of croissant and chocolate. The prepared foods section is still one of the best in the city. They have enough for a full meal that you might make at home but ‘don’t have the time’. Just walking around is an experience. They also have a small restaurant off to the side of the building complex and it has specials during lunch (See review on TripAdvisor).

Westsider Rare & Used Books at 2246 Broadway across from Zabar’s and a little further down by West 81st Street and Broadway is pilled high with used, antique and out of print books. This worn looking bookstore is what out-of-towners would say a New York bookstore should look like down to the literary looking woman who works there much like her counterpart at Westsider Records down at 233 West 72nd Street. The people the store has working there fit the stereotype of who would work there. These two stores are fun to wonder around in especially if you grew up in the late 60’s and the 70’s and early 80’s before the ‘Yuppie’ transformation of NYC. You never know what treasure you will find in the stacks of there stores.

Most of the rest of Upper Broadway is quite commercial but helpful in everyday needs of shopping and entertainment. The big AMC Theater attracts people from all over the neighborhood and this area is always busy.

During a break in the walking, I stopped by the West Side Cafe at 218 West 72nd Street for the noted Sausage, Egg and Cheese bagel ($3.95) that I ate in Riverside Park. I had seen someone eating it the other day and had to have it. It was well-worth the visit and the sandwich was big and warmed me up with every bite on this cool day.

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West Side Cafe & Pizza

West End Avenue like the areas uptown is lined with graceful apartment buildings and on the side streets elegant apartment buildings and brownstones. There are a lot of beautiful churches and schools in this area of the neighborhood.

When you walk down West 84th Street (named after Edgar Allen Poe), you walk into a residential area that time has not touched (except for the sandblasting of the buildings). Most of the apartment buildings are art themselves with all the stonework, carvings and ironwork decorating them. Really take time to look at the stonework of the apartments and the brownstones lining all the streets between West End Avenue and Riverside Drive.

The Mickey Mantle Elementary School P.S. M811 sits at the corner of West End Avenue and West 81st Street at 466 West End Avenue which was named after the famous Yankee Baseball Player. The school specializes in teaching children with learning disabilities and is one of the best of its kind in the City. The school was renamed after the famous player June 4th, 2002 and its academic excellence would have made Mr. Mantle proud.

You can see the back of the Antony Apartments between West 79th and 78th Streets and still you see the grandeur of this apartment building from all sides including the courtyard. The West End Collegiate Church at 245 West 77th Street can be seen for the entire block and it picturesque in its appearance.

Built in 1892 by architect Robert W. Gibson, this church was designed in the Gothic Dutch-Flemish Revival Renaissance design and is a noted landmark as headquarter to the church and the Collegiate School, one of the best prep schools in the City. Walk around the church to see the brick details and the Coats of Arms of past patrons lining their walls (Wiki/Church Website). The look of the church is different from all sides.

There is a small plaque at 440 West End Avenue dedicated to Charles Evans Hughes, the Republican Governor and great State Reformer. He had championed the eight hour day, forty-eight hour week for workers (under 16) and set up a Trades Act to protect workers much of what we work with today. He also served as Secretary of State under President Harding among his many accomplishments.

I finished my walk at the Eleanor Roosevelt statue at the end of Riverside Park and walked around this side of the park which on a cool day was relaxing. I just sat by the benches and looked at all the interesting buildings.

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Eleanor Roosevelt Statue

Just to add more walking in, I walked to West Place Chinese Restaurant at 1288 Amsterdam Avenue for dinner that night. I had a craving for Chinese food and still had a lot of energy left in me from the sandwich earlier and it had started to clear up so I made the trek up Amsterdam Avenue to above the Columbia campus near West 110th Street.

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West Place Chinese Food menu

I had a Chicken with Green Beans and pork fried rice combination platter dinner ($8.75) that was excellent and could have feed two people. The chicken was packed with flavor from the spicy garlic sauce and the fried rice had a decent amount of pork in it. The egg roll was pretty decent as well, filled with pork and shredded cabbage.

This local hole in the wall restaurant has now become a favorite not just of people living in the public and private housing complexes that line this part of the neighborhood above Columbia University but with the students as well. I have seen the place packed with Asian students on their lunch hour much to the surprise of everyone else.

After dinner, I walked from West 108th Street to West 42nd Street back to the Port Authority to go home. It had been a long day of walking but there is so much to see and if you really stop to look at everything closely in this neighborhood there is a lot of history packed into this part of the Upper West Side.

 

Places to visit:

 

American Museum of Natural History

Central Park West & West 79th Street

New York, NY  10024

(212) 769-5100

http://www.amnh.org

My review from TripAdvisor:

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

 

New York Historical Society

170 Central Park West

New York, NY  10024

(212) 873-3400

http://www.nyhistory.org

My review on TripAdvisor:

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

My review on VisitingaMuseum.com:

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

 

Urban Assembly Garden

145 West 84th Street

New York, NY  10024

(212) 787-1189

http://www.uagreencareers.org/garden/

 

Stores to Visit:

 

West Side Kids

498 Amsterdam Avenue

New York, NY 10024

(212) 496-7282

http://www.westsidekids.com

 

Books of Wonder

217 West 84th Street

New York, NY  10024

(212) 989-1804

info@booksofwonder.com

My review on LittleShoponMainStreet@Wordpress.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/littleshoponmainstreet.wordpress.com/42

 

Westsider Rare & Used Books

2246 Broadway (between West 81st Street & Broadway)

New York, NY 10024

(212) 362-0706

http://westsiderbooks.com/

Open: Monday-Sunday: 10:00am-10:00pm

 

Westsider Records

233 West 72nd Street

New York, NY  10023

(212) 874-1588

http://westsiderbooks.com/recordstore.html

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

 

Places to eat:

West Place Chinese Restaurant

1288 Amsterdam Avenue

New York, NY  10027

(212) 932-9390/9376

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d5065901-Reviews-West_Place-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

My review on DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/diningonashoestringinnyc.wordpress.com/591

Zabar’s

2245 Broadway

New York, NY  10024

(212) 787-2000

http://www.zabars.com

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d948624-Reviews-Zabar_Deli_Gourmet_Foods-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

My review on DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@wordpress.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/diningonashoestringinnyc.wordpress.com/686

 

Fairway Supermarket

2131 Broadway

New York, NY 10023

(212) 595-1888

http://www.fairwaymarket.com

 

West Side Cafe

218 West 72nd Street

New York, NY 10023

(212) 769-9939/8815

My review on TripAdvisor:

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

My review on DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com:

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

 

Day Ninety Seven: Walking the Streets of the Upper Upper West Side from West 110th-West 94th Streets October 21st-November 25th, 2017

It is amazing the changes that happen in just a month! The weather changed but not the way you would think. It went from being in the 80’s in the beginning of October to the 40’s and 50’s in November. Now you might say that is normal for this time of year but the temperatures have been all over the place.

People were dining outside as late as the day after Thanksgiving. It was 52F on the 25th of November. Nippy yes but eating outside? In the sun, it really was warm. As I walked the streets of the Upper Upper West Side, it was a pleasant and warm day.

The nice part is that it has been so warm outside lately that the leaves did not change as fast as they normally do this time of the year. The leaves did not start to change in the New York City area until about five days before Halloween. Everything was greener than it normally has been in the past. As of my last day on this part of the West Side, the trees still have changing foliage in Riverside Park, so when the sun hit some of the trees they still cast a glow of golds and reds.

I have seen a distinct change in the make up in the city as you cross over the 100th Street on the West Side. Once you pass the Douglass Houses, the residential area starts to change along with the stores and restaurants around it.  The bodegas and cheaper restaurants  start to disappear. The rents have been going up in this area and there is a lot of empty retail space in the Upper Upper West Side. What there is a lot of restaurants where the price of a burger will run you around $16.00. The Upper West Side is becoming a lot more like the Upper East Side.

What I have also have found is many beautiful pocket parks, unusual architecture with creative details and some wonderful restaurants and shops that show that the chain stores do not dominate a city. I never realized that it would take so long to finish the area. A little thing called Halloween came into play and then the weather got colder (See all the activities you can get involved with for the Halloween holidays for next year on this blog).

I started my first day at surprising enough 127th Street. I got on the C subway train by mistake ( I should have gotten on the A Train) but it gave me a chance to see what changes have come about in Morningside Heights. I swear as the new buildings at Columbia University are ready to open soon between 125th-134th Streets, the area is quickly changing around it. All over the area surrounding the 125th subway stop on the A subway line is being ripped apart and being rebuilt.

All the buildings around 125th Street are being sandblasted and gutted back to life or are being knocked down and rebuilt. This will just be an extension of Morningside Heights within the next five years. It will be more college campus than Harlem or the traditional Harlem that people know.

I had lunch that afternoon at West Place Chinese Restaurant at 1288 Amsterdam Avenue, a small hole in the wall Chinese restaurant that I passed several times (See review on TripAdvisor) and had wanted to try for a long time. The food was wonderful and the portion sizes were plentiful. I had an order of General Tso’s chicken with rice and Wonton Soup with a Coke for $8.00. It could have fed two people easily. The food was as good as anything in Chinatown and the quality was great.

West Place Chinese restaurant

After lunch, I walked down Broadway to 96th Street, passing through the campus that I had walked months earlier. The Columbia Campus is another part of the city that just keeps changing with new buildings being built on old ones or old buildings being sandblasted back to their original beauty. This area is becoming more desirable to live in again and as Morningside Park keeps improving, everything that surrounds it does as well. Even the parks surrounding the campus keep improving with Morningside Park receiving new plantings and Riverside Park getting a spruce up. I got to my destination, West 96th Street and Central Park West by the early afternoon.

I started my day on West 96th Street on the corner of West 96th and Central Park West where some of the trees were still green even this late into the season. I swear Central Park is never not busy. Families were playing in the playgrounds and tourists still walking through the park getting a taste of the real New York. The weather has been so unusually warm this year that it is a pleasure to just walk around.

For the most part, the blocks closer to the both parks, Central Park and Riverside Park, the streets are lined with beautiful brownstones. Most of the side streets between Central Park West and Amsterdam Avenue are lined with some of the most elegant architecture from the turn of the last century. It is hard to believe that up to twenty years ago, parts of this area had been bombed out.

I was able to see the last of the Halloween decorations give way to fall themes decorating the brownstones. Like their suburban counterparts, people like to decorate their buildings. Pumpkins and haystacks lined the elegant brownstones and occasionally there was a ghost or witch motif decorating the front.

halloween in Washington Heights

Brownstones decorated for the holiday

Some of the most beautiful buildings outside of the Central Park district were the homes between West End Avenue and Riverside Drive right next to Riverside Park. Old elegant mansions and gracefully carved apartment buildings line the streets between both Avenues. Look up at the craved stone sculptures that line the building. Graceful animals, fierce gargoyles and lattice work line the tops of these buildings. It is time to put down those silly cellphones and really notice how beautifully built these homes were and the care put into them.

Their is a lot of artwork on the Riverside Drive especially around this section of the Upper West Side. The Joan of Arc statue on 95th Street and Riverside Drive gives a description of her life and who she really was in the time of war. I didn’t realize how threatened they were by her that they had to accuse her of being a witch to get rid of her power of persuasion. The statute which was created in 1915 is in a small park within a park, “Joan of Arc Park”, that stands above Riverside Park above the paths. If you want to know more about her life, stop here and read the plaques.

Joan of Arc Park

Joan of Arc Statue in the small park

What stands out between 95th to 94th Streets off West End Avenue is the ‘Pomander Walk’, a small alley behind a large apartment building which contains a series of eight two story Tudor homes with gardens in front. This is hidden behind a gate off 94th Street.

This whimsical little treasure was build between 1920-1922 by nightclub owner, Thomas Healy. He was creating income for a large hotel that he wanted to build on the property. He died in 1927 before he could find funding for the hotel and that’s why it exists today. I have read that today it is hard to find a home in this little strip and a recent two bedroom apartment building sold for $700,000. Pretty good for a dolls house.

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Pomander Walk

The outside of the homes can be seen in on 95th Street and look like a Swiss or German Chalet in the Alps. The detail work was under scaffolding when I first passed it and I wondered if it was a restaurant being fixed up. When you discover the gate entrance, it almost looks like a hidden ‘Land of Oz’. I could see the flowers and plants from the street. It reminded me of some of the small developments in Harlem where a small set of row homes creates its own neighborhood. You have to really look for it or you will miss it.

I was able to walk Riverside Park and enjoy that late foliage. The view of the Hudson River is just spectacular especially from the buffs of the neighborhood. I don’t think too many tourists appreciate this park with it beautiful vistas of the river and its great parks for kids. The trees were a combination of golds and oranges when the sun hit them.

The Upper Upper West is a combination apartment buildings built in the 1970’s and 80’s with more newer buildings being developed along Broadway but here in there in the commercial district some things do pop out at you. This is true of the former ‘Little Plantation Restaurant’ that recently closed on the corner of 93rd Street and Columbus Avenue. Attached to an apartment building, this space looks like a Southern plantation mansion fitted even with a porch swing. I am not sure how long this will last without being a restaurant but make a special trip to the building just see the detail work.

Sol Bloom Playground

Sol Bloom Playground

As I rounded the corners back to Central Park West, I stopped at the Sol Bloom Playground on 92nd Street near the local school to look for a bathroom. This whimsical park on a nice day attracts kids from all over the place and their parents running all over and playing on a the equipment. The park was named after Sol Bloom, a self-made millionaire. He had made his money in his music and real estate businesses. He had built several apartment buildings and both the Apollo and Music Box theaters.

Sol Bloom.jpg

Sol Bloom

I ended the day at the 86th Station totally exhausted having walk the area between 96th Street to 90th Street. The one thing that differs the Upper Upper West Side from Manhattan Valley/Bloomingdale to the north is how much newer it has gotten at the core. So many more newer apartment buildings in this area and more businesses catering to a higher end client. It just seems more like the old Upper West Side above 96th Street.

My second day walking the neighborhood I started after a long day at the Soup Kitchen. Working the Bread station all afternoon with the homeless asking you for pastries all morning long can be wearing. I got through it all. I started this part of the walk with lunch in Yorkville, wanting to try East Garden Chinese Restaurant at 1685 First Avenue again to see if it made the cut for my blog, ‘Dining on a Shoe String in NYC’. It did!

East Garden Chinese Restaurant really blows my mind on how good this place is for lunch. Their lunch specials run $5.95 and you get a very large entrée with a side of rice. Add in a Coke for an extra dollar and you have lunch and dinner. The place is really clean too.

East Garden Chinese Restaurant.jpg

East Garden Chinese Restaurant is excellent!

I had the Chicken with Broccoli with white rice and it was a very large portion. Both the chicken and the broccoli were perfectly and they do give you a nice amount of chicken. The sauce is flavorful and delicious (See review on TripAdvisor and DiningonaShoeStringinNYC.wordpress.com as well). It was both lunch and dinner for me.

After lunch, it was across the street to Glaser’s Bakery at 1670 1st Avenue for dessert (See reviews on both TripAdvisor and DiningonaShoeStringinNYC-NOW CLOSED). They make a peach Danish that is out of this world ! ($3.00). I swear this is one of the best bakeries in the city! So much for the places with the $10.00 cookies, Glaser’s is the real thing. Every bite of that Danish was like heaven!

Glazer's Bake Shop

Glaser’s Bakery

I decided to walk across the park this afternoon to get some real exercise and work off that lunch. The park in the late fall is glorious with the gold and yellow leaves and the cool but still warm breezes. I walked along the reservoir and watched the joggers pass me by. I had more than a few tourists ask to take pictures for them but it is so much fun to see the park so alive with people and happy to be there. The park is so graceful in its own way and the fact that so much of it is being renovated by the Conservatory shows that people believe in it.

I love the winding paths and the quietness of the park. Even though these paths have been traveled many times, I felt as if I had seen them for the first time. I had never been to this part of the park before and walking these paths felt like a new adventure. It amazes me that I have been in this park a million times since I was a kid but I still wonder at the parts of it that I have never seen. I walked along the back paths of the lake by the low 80’s and ended up walking to West 82nd Street and Central Park West in the mid-afternoon. The trees were still brilliant with colorful leaves as November was still gripping. We had had such a warm fall that many of the trees turned late much to the benefit of those who like to walk around the neighborhood.

I walked up to 84th Street and Central Park West to resume my walk of the neighborhood. I really like the stores in this neighborhood. They have character. I walked into West Side Kids at 498 Amsterdam Avenue and West 84th Street, to look at the toys and games. It is one of the classic stores of the city and still holds on to the tradition that kids are not all glued to their cellphones. It has a nice array of games and stuffed animals and assorted pocket knick knacks. It is a place I would have liked to shop at when I was a kid.

John Koch Antiques at 201 84th Street (See review on LittleShoponMainStreet@Wordpress.com) has unique window displays and in the short visit I had there had many wonderful pieces to decorate the office or your home. I liked the sailboats in the window. There was a turn of the last century feel about the place.

John Koch Antiques

John Koch Antiques

Books of Wonder at 217 West 84th Street (See review on LittleShoponMainStreet@Wordpress.com) was enjoyable except they were going through a floor move when I was there and I only got to see the front of the store. It has an excellent selection of classic and contemporary children’s books.

Books of Wonder.jpg

Books of Wonder Book Store

As you turn the corner onto West 85th Street, take time to admire 101 West 85th Street. The building has the most beautiful architecture and beautiful details and built in the 1880’s. The Red House Apartment building at West 85th Street and West End Avenue near Riverside Drive has unique details to it as well. You really have to stop and look up to admire the design of the building. I rounded West 85th Street around West 86th Street and then to West 87th Street.

101 85th Street

101 West 85th Street; look at the details of the building

When walking up the block and turning onto West 87th Street, take time to admire the foliage at Central Park West. The park is truly beautiful on this part of block. The trees are really ablaze with color.

When I arrived at P.S. 166 on 132 West 89th Street, the Richard Rodgers School, is the Manhattan School of Art & Technology. I read the plaque that was dedicated in 2003 to the famous composer. The school was built in 1897 and is one of the few terra cotta gothic designs in the New York Public School system. It is such an honor to a famous composer of musicals such as ‘The Flower Drum Song’ and ‘The King and I’.

The Playground 89 next to P.S. 166 adds a little life to the quiet neighborhood. Even on a slightly warm November day, there were loads of kids running around while their parents relaxed and chatted on the benches surrounding the park. It was nice to see so many families out that afternoon.

As you round the neighborhood on West 89th Street, I walked into the West Side Community Garden at 123 West 89th and Columbus Avenue. This little gem of a park is located behind an office building and is across from P.S. 166. Though not in the full bloom that I saw from the pictures posted in the park from the Summer Opera Program, the trees still held on to their golden hue and some of the plants had some greenery to them. It looks like the community really backs and maintains the park. In warmer months, there is a lot of special events here.

West Side Community Garden.jpg

West Side Community Garden in the Summer

Down the street from the school and the parks is Ballet Hispanico at the corner of 167 West 89th and Amsterdam Avenue. Some of the holiday shows had been posted and looked rather interesting. The building was closed the day I was there.

The last part of my journey of the streets of the neighborhood was crossing West 90th Street for a second time and exploring the avenues. I stopped at the St. Gregory’s Playground near the corner of West 90th Street and Columbus Avenue. this little pocket park on the other side of the West Side Community Garden is in dire need of a face lift. I can see this is something the neighborhood needs as a parent yelled out to me if I was from the NYC Parks Department (I have no clue why I look so important to people when walking around the city. Either I look like a policeman or a city official).

There is another small park behind the Wise Houses, a small public housing project, in this very quickly gentrifying and updated neighborhood.  As I had read online and seen by walking though it (more stares from the residents), the small park has some unique fixtures yet is falling apart when you really look at it. The benches and some of the equipment is in need of repair but I could tell is well used by the residents by the kids running around. Like the St. Gregory playground, it could use a facelift.

The last part of the walk took me back to West End Avenue on West 90th Street and the most elegant row of brownstone homes that lined the avenue. I have noticed on my walk of this neighborhood that the individual homes along the streets between Central Park West and Columbus Avenue and Riverside Drive and West End Avenue have some of the most unique architecture in the neighborhood.

It must have been something when the whole neighborhood must have looked like this but that is progress. In the middle of the neighborhood, the area keeps updating, modernizing and changing. It seems that the neighborhood is morphing into something a little more upscale like its southern neighbors and less like Manhattan Valley to the north. For now, not quite the traditional Upper West Side but still homey and welcoming to people moving in. I enjoyed my afternoons here.

Take the A or C or 1 subway trains to the Upper Upper West Side. The A train will be express from 59th Street to 125th Street.

Places to eat:

West Place Chinese Restaurant

1288 Amsterdam Avenue

New York, NY  10027

(212) 932-9390/9376

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d5065901-Reviews-West_Place-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

DiningonShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/diningonashoestringinnyc.wordpress.com/591

 

East Garden Chinese Restaurant

1685 First Avenue

New York, NY

(212) 831-5900

http://www.eastgardenchinese.com

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d12860202-Reviews-East_Garden_Chinese_Restaurant-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

My review on DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/diningonashoestringinnyc.wordpress.com/489

 

Glaser’s Bake Shop (now closed)

1670 1st Avenue

New York, NY 10128

(212) 289-2562

http://www.glasersbakeshop.com

My review on TripAdvisor:

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

My review on DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com:

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

 

Places to Shop:

West Side Kids

498 Amsterdam Avenue

New York, NY  10024

(212) 496-7282

http://www.westsideskidsnyc.com

 

John Koch Antiques

201 West 84th Street

New York, NY  10024

(212) 799-2167

http://www.kochantiques.com

My review on LittleShoponMainStreet@Wordpress.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/littleshoponmainstreet.wordpress.com/20

 

 

Books of Wonder

217 West 84th Street

New York, NY

(800) 207-6968

http://www.booksofwonder.com

My review on LittleShoponMainStreet@Wordpress.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/littleshoponmainstreet.wordpress.com/42

 

Places to Visit:

West Side Community Garden

123 West 89th Street

(212) 316-5490

http://www.westsidecommunitygarden.org

 

Ballet Hispanico

167 West 89th Street

(212) 362-6710

http://www.ballethispanico.org

 

Playground 89

West 89th Street

New York, NY  10024

http://www.nycgovparks.org/parks/playground/eighty-nine

Open: Varies with the school

 

Joan of Arc Park

Riverside Drive Between West 96th-West 91st Streets

New York, NY 10025

Open: Sunday-Saturday 6:00am-1:00am

https://www.nycgovparks.org/parks/joan-of-arc-park