Saturday, April 22, 2017

Queens: Afternoon in Astoria

Always time for coffee

One of my favorite pastimes is exploring New York City and one of my favorite neighborhoods is Astoria, Queens. Astoria was named for John Jacob Astor and remains a relatively low rise neighborhood of families and local stores. It's just a few subway stops from Manhattan, but a world away. On a sunny afternoon I like to take the train and ride to one of the stops on the N or W lines, and then I just start walking. There are good restaurants -- some of the best Greek food in New York City -- and interesting food stores.  

Last fall during one of my walks I discovered Leli's at 35-14 30th Avenue. The food is Maltese -- delicious -- and the service is friendly. My savory cheese pastry and coffee warmed me up on a cold autumn afternoon.   

It's always coffee o'clock for me!


I'm a total window shopper and I love the store windows of Astoria. The window above may be one of the last remaining hobby shops -- long may it live! -- and I spend a long time looking at the statues in the store window below.

A visit to the Museum of the Moving Image is a great activity while you're visiting Astoria. Its focus is film, television and digital imagery and it is a fascinating place to visit. There are many special events and programs, and it's a good idea to check the calendar when you're making your plans to visit New York. I was looking at the website while I was doing this post and found an event with Martin Scorsese scheduled for tomorrow afternoon. I think that's where I will be spending part of tomorrow.
I've enjoyed our visit to Queens as part of the Blogging from A to Z Challenge.  Next stop is Rockefeller Center.
As ever, take care and have a great Sunday! 

Friday, April 21, 2017

A Walk in the (Central) Park: the Legacy of Olmstead and Vaux

Autumn in New York

I think one of the archetypal scenes of New York is Central Park in the autumn. Immortalized in movies, it's earned a place high on the list of places to visit during a trip to New York. Its 843 acres are set in the middle of Manhattan and form a serene center to the activity around it. Central Park was the first landscaped public park in the United States, authorized in 1853. It was designed by landscape designer, Frederick Law Olmstead and architect, Calvert Vaux.

There are summer Philharmonic concerts, Shakespeare performances and miles of jogging paths to enjoy. On a sunny afternoon -- these pictures were taken in November -- it is a beautiful place to enjoy what endless expanses of grass and trees, even in the biggest city in America.

Central Park is bordered on the east by Fifth Avenue and on the west by Central Park West, where I took these pictures. A fascinating added stop while you're visiting Central Park is the New York Historical Society, at Seventy-Seventh Street and Central Park West. It's one of my favorite museums, with a great restaurant and fun gift shop. I've enjoyed watching a featured movie on the history of New York, seeing the permanent collection, as well as the varied exhibitions. This poster advertises last fall's exhibition on the Battle of Brooklyn.  

If anyone notices I'm combining "O" for Olmstead and "P" for Park into one post for today's  A to Z Blogging Challenge. It's not quite the letter of the Challenge, but it is the spirit. I had trouble downloading some of the photographs I intended to use for "O," but I hope to do my original O post at a later time.

As ever, thanks for visiting and take good care!

A Stroll on Ninth Avenue And a Slice

Wondee Thai Restaurant

I often get asked "Where should I go to eat?" One of my favorite areas when I'm not sure what I'd like to eat and want a selection of relatively inexpensive restaurants is Ninth Avenue from Fifty Ninth Street to Forty Second Street. There are at least a hundred restaurants in the seventeen blocks, of every type of food imaginable. 

The Flame is the classic New York coffee shop and one of my favorites. It has an enormous menu, isn't expensive and is perfect for a hamburger or grilled cheese sandwich. I worked a block away for a number of years and have good memories of our Friday lunches at The Flame. 

Don't judge a pizza place by the exterior...
I didn't want to write about New York City without writing about pizza. I love pizza, but don't eat it often enough to have good recommendations, so I queried my friends on Facebook. I got many suggestions, but was most intrigued by one from my friend, Brandon. He suggested Sacco's, on Ninth Avenue at 54th Street, describing it as "official old school street pizza." I had a very good slice of pizza, with a crispy thin crust and a nice amount of broccoli. The décor is very simple, but the pizza is good.  
Looking out at Ninth Avenue from Sacco's counter
During my walk, I was pleased to find the dance studio for the Alvin Ailey Dance Theater, one of my favorite dance troops.

What I like most about Ninth Avenue is the ability to try different cuisines and for the most part, inexpensively. Whether it's a simple slice of pizza, a burger, Thai food, Mexican food, Greek food and food from all around the world, there's at least one, if not several, different restaurants to choose from.

It's not quite the home stretch, but getting close in the A to Z Blogging Challenge. The next post is my pick for what I would choose if I only had One Day in New York City.

As ever, thanks for visiting and take good care!

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Metropolitan Museum of Art

I've spent a fair amount of time debating my topic for "M. in the A to Z Blogging Challenge. " I've gone back and forth between mass transit -- which will appear in a later post -- and museums. Museums won for M and I started sorting photographs for the wealth of museums in New York City. But as I thought and sorted and thought a little more, the Metropolitan Museum of Art wouldn't leave my mind. It is one museum -- though it now has a branch on Madison Avenue -- but you can visit there and see the world of art.

Whether you are interested in ancient art...

or more modern art like this beauty by Louis Comfort Tiffany, there is something to enjoy at the "Met."
It is one of my very favorite places in New York City and I can happily wander one gallery or another at almost any time. I am a great fan of the American Wing, but I also enjoy the Asian Art galleries and English Art of the eighteenth century and the photography galleries, and of course, the special exhibits. I don't think there's a section that I don't find interesting. There are no-cost walking tours every day, led by the very well-versed docents of the museum.   

Looking out to Central Park on a snowy afternoon. 

One of my favorite places is the Temple of Dendur, which marks it's fiftieth anniversary at the museum. It dates from the Roman period and was rescued from the flooding after the Aswan Dam was built and given to the museum. 
The Sculpture Courtyard and café in the American Wing
My favorite place for a cup of coffee or lunch when I'm at the museum is the American Wing café. I think it may be the best view in the city. When I look in one direction my view is Central Park and in the other direction, the beautiful collection of sculpture in the museum's collection of American art. It's an enormous treat for the price of a cup of coffee.
Happily we don't have to choose just one museum to visit. There's an extraordinary array to choose from. Fans of modern art may want to visit the Whitney in a fabulous new building in the Meatpacking District. If you're traveling with children the American Museum of Natural History  is not to be missed. So many museums, so little time!
 As ever, thanks for visiting and enjoy the spring weather!

Lady in the Harbor

If I had to pick one place to visit in New York, it would be the Statue of Liberty. Without.Question.
I first visited the Statue of Liberty with my parents in the summer of  1965. I had been to New York City many times, both to visit relatives and as a tourist, but this was my first visit to Lower Manhattan. I have two memories of the visit. I remember climbing -- not sure if it was to the crown -- infinite steps and the sense of awe and wonder I took away. The sense of awe and wonder remain to this day. One of the great pleasures of my life was an office view of the Lady in the Harbor. My colleagues told me that the view would become routine and at some point I wouldn't notice it. That never happened. Every day the view was brand new to me.    
The Statue of Liberty was a gift from the people of France to the United States in 1886. It was designated a national monument in 1924. The lines, as you see below, are ever present. It is highly recommended that you buy your ticket ahead of your visit. If you wish to visit the crown -- my memory of infinite steps -- those tickets are often reserved six months ahead.   

"I lift my lamp beside the golden shore."
Emma Lazarus

"Stand beside her and guide her thru the night with the light from above." 

If you're unable to get tickets a great view of the Statue and all of New York Harbor is via a ride on the Staten Island Ferry. The half hour trip is without cost, but the views are priceless. I took this picture returning from a minor league baseball game in Staten Island last July.

Sunset over Ellis Island

You may be able to coordinate a visit to Ellis Island National Museum of Immigration when you visit the Statue of Liberty. Ellis Island is a fascinating repository of the twelve million who passed through there as a first step to America.

I hope during your visit to New York you have the opportunity to meet Lady Liberty.
I'm just about halfway through the alphabet in this series of posts for the Blogging from A to Z Challenge. I'm at that moment where I don't think I can begin to do justice to the wealth of sights to visit in New York City. Please come back and visit. We will be going to some great places.   
As ever, thanks for visiting and enjoy the week! 

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Kobrick: It's Coffee Time

First stop in our West Side day: Kobrick for coffee

We're spending today on the far west side of Manhattan (the Hudson River side of town). We're starting our day with an excellent cup of coffee at Kobrick, located at 24 Ninth Avenue. Last April I spent the month drinking coffee and writing about coffee and Kobrick was one of my favorites. Nearing its hundredth anniversary it serves locally roasted coffee. There is a very pleasant outdoors area, perfect for watching the goings on in the neighborhood. We need some energy because we're spending the morning walking the High Line.
The cobblestone street in the Meatpacking District, which includes Kobrick and the High Line. Not so long ago this neighborhood was the wholesale meat district of New York. Now it's home to trendy restaurants and stores.
We may want to stop at one of my favorite places, Chelsea Market, a wonderful space of food sellers and restaurants for a snack. Perhaps we'll save it for a treat after our visit to the High Line.  

Welcome to the High Line.

When I was putting together this year's list of posts for the A to Z Blogging Challenge, I thought I'd included just about every popular place for visitors to New York. I'm sure there will be any number of places that I will omit, but I would be completely remiss to leave out the High Line. I've been meaning to write about it since a visit last summer and it kept getting postponed. But the High Line is top of the list for many visitors to New York City. It is very popular and gets very crowded, so I highly suggest you get there early in the day.

The High Line is approximately a mile and a half aerial greenway, i.e., an elevated park. An abandoned elevated section of New York Central Railroad track was converted to a beautiful walkway of greenery and art. 
A sample of midsummer lushness on the High Line.
Visitors can walk a small section or the entire length. It's easy walking and there are seating areas along the entire length. There are also elevators to provide access. I highly recommend a visit, perhaps with a delicious cup of coffee from Kobrick or a snack from Chelsea Market.   

 I hope everyone had a wonderful Easter celebration. It was lovely in New York, though the weather was closer to summer than Easter time.

As ever, thanks for visiting and have a great week. Please join us as we continue to explore New York City.  

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Japanese Hill-and-Pond Garden

It is a beautiful spring day in New York today and the perfect day to visit the Japanese Hill-and-Pond Garden at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. There are few days that not perfect days to visit one of the most beautiful places in New York City. Besides the daily serene beauty the extraordinary array of cherry trees is in blossom and this is as lovely a sight as a day in Kyoto. I took these pictures on a visit last fall, and I am reminded that I am overdue for a return trip, especially to see the cherry trees. It is a very easy trip from Manhattan and a quick walk from the subway. Tuesdays are free admission days for everyone and Fridays are free admission for seniors.


The pond from a different perspective
The Japanese Pond and Garden is not the only attraction at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. My other favorites include the rose garden, the lily pool terrace and the extraordinary magnolias.

I'm once again joining the Blogging from A to Z Challenge and my friends at Pink Saturday. Our next stop in New York City is a trip back to Manhattan's Meatpacking neighborhood. Please be part of the fun.

As ever, thanks for visiting. To all who celebrate Easter, a bright and blessed day!

Friday, April 14, 2017

I Love New York: The Easiest Love Letter I've Ever Written

I love the amazing New York skyline. Looking east from the Time Warner Center
 at Columbus Circle. 

I also love the street carts and the color they add to the street scene.

I love the blend of old and new buildings. This is in Lower Manhattan. St. Paul's Chapel is celebrating it's 250th anniversary, with the newly rebuilt Trade Center in the background. Just a few blocks separate the two buildings and several centuries.
I love the public art of Ballerina Hippo, who greets me upon exiting the subway at West 65th Street. 

I also love the flowers in infinite bouquets at my local markets. 

I moved to New York in 1975 and expected to stay just a few years. I had a job in publishing, a teeny apartment and a few friends from college. New York, you were too big for me, too crowded for me and too noisy for me -- but I fell in love with you. I didn't expect to, but I did. I came to see that your noise and size reflected your energy and excitement, even in some of the darkest times I've lived here. When people ask me why I stayed here I usually reply "I made friends and got jobs." All true, but I made friends and got jobs in a city I loved.

New York, we've been together over forty years now. There's a little less excitement, but I like our calmer and easier relationship. I don't miss the subway at rush hour and I love lingering over coffee and the New York Times in a newly discovered coffee shop even more than I liked late nights listening to piano music thirty years ago. Despite your quirks, you were just so easy to love.

 If anyone is keeping track of my A to Z Blogging Challenge posts, you will notice that "H" is missing.  It's not for any lack of interest in Hamilton, but I've gone a little overboard with photographs and need a little more editing time. There will be an H, though our next post will most like be J.

As ever, thanks for visiting and wishes for a bright and beautiful Easter weekend!

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Green-Wood Cemetery

Green-Wood Cemetery, once a place of rural repose, now in the middle of Brooklyn. 

The entrance to Green-Wood, completed in 1865. During this period Green-Wood was the second most popular tourist destination in America, second to Niagara Falls.

We're returning to Brooklyn for a visit to Green-Wood Cemetery. Completed in 1838, in what then was the far reaches of Brooklyn. Churchyards throughout the city had little space left and situating a large park-like cemetery in rural Brooklyn was the solution. It is the final resting place of Horace Greeley, Louis Comfort Tiffany, Boss Tweed and more recently, Leonard Bernstein. It predates both Central Park and Prospect Park in Brooklyn and was a popular site for picnics. It is still a beautiful place to visit and there is an active calendar of historic programs and events. It is easy to reach via mass transit.

A quiet summer afternoon at Green-Wood. 

It is also the site of the Battle of Long Island -- also known as the Battle of Brooklyn in New York City -- which was a critical battle in the Revolutionary War. The picture above is from a commemoration I went to last summer on the 240th anniversary of the battle.

I've gotten somewhat behind on my Blogging from A to Z Challenge, but I will be finishing the Challenge and the alphabet. No letter will be neglected.

As ever, thanks for visiting and please join me next for a post about Alexander Hamilton. 

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Federal Hall: When New York City Was the Capital of the United States

Federal Hall, 26 Wall Street
We're going back in time to the beginning of U.S. government. After the Revolutionary War New York City is the capital. Later the capital moves to  Philadelphia and then Washington, D.C. The Continental Congress and then the first Congress of the new nation meet in what was then the City Hall for New York City, Federal Hall. The Bill of Rights was written here and George Washington was inaugurated here as the first president of the new nation on April 30, 1789. It is now run by the National Park Service and is so worth a visit. One of the highlights of visiting Federal Hall is seeing the Bible that Washington swore his oath of office when he was inaugurated. 
This structure, however, isn't the building that was on the site for the events I've mentioned. City Hall -- which needed more space -- was torn down and built approximately a half mile north. A Customs House was built here, which later became a US sub-treasury and gold and silver were stored in its basement vaults.    

The New York Stock Exchange
After your visit to Federal Hall, look to your right and you will see the New York Stock Exchange, at the corner of Broad Street and Wall Street. 

We continue our walk through FiDi -- Financial District -- to Fraunces Tavern. Founded in 1762, the Sons of Liberty met here before the war. Washington bid farewell to his officers here in 1783 and the reception for Washington's inauguration was held here in 1789. Fraunces Tavern is a great place for lunch or dinner or just some liquid refreshment, with a selection of 140 craft beers available. There is also a museum attached to the restaurant.

This is one of my favorite parts of New York City. I worked just a few blocks from Fraunces Tavern for five years and spent many lunch hours exploring the history of the area.

It's a bright and beautiful Sunday in New York. I'm going out to enjoy the day and do research for "P is for Pizza," an  A to Z Blogging Challenge post for later this month. 

As ever, thanks for visiting and enjoy the spring.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

It's Almost Time for the Easter Parade

The winter crawled by, but spring is progressing at a much more rapid pace. Palm Sunday is in just a few days and a week later it's Easter. If you happen to be in New York City, you, too, can be part of the Easter Parade.

Bright and fun bonnets for the Easter Parade
You don't need a formal invitation for this very informal and very fun walk down Fifth Avenue on Easter afternoon. You don't even need an Easter bonnet, but if you're at all creative you can display your creativity. I am not creative, but I enjoy seeing what other people have put together.
 Walking over to Fifth Avenue, one begins to see an array of bonnets. This was taken at Columbus Circle. It's New York, so the livelier the better. 
 Everyone gets into the action, including this cutie in pink satin bunny ears. 

If it's a sunny day on Easter Sunday, you know where I'll be. I'll be strolling down Fifth Avenue, camera in hand and enjoying the bonnets and the fun. 
Hope you've enjoyed the Buttercupland "E " post for Blogging from A to Z.  As ever, thanks for visiting. Stay safe and enjoy your evening. 

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Dumbo Isn't Just an Elephant

We love our neighborhood abbreviations in New York City. In Manhattan there's Soho -- south of Houston Street and Tribeca -- the Triangle Below Canal Street. In Brooklyn, there's Dumbo, which stands for Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass. Once an industrial neighborhood it later became an area for artists and now is an interesting and quirky residential neighborhood. It also has some of the best views of Manhattan. 
The Brooklyn Bridge and the World Trade Center in the distance.

Once again, one of my favorite sights in New York City, the Brooklyn Bridge.
Beginning as a ferry landing, Dumbo became a center of manufacturing and warehouses. Machinery, Brillo soap pads and paper boxes were manufactured here. The cardboard box was invented on Washington Street by Scottish immigrant, Robert Gair. The Gair building is now home to Etsy. It is also home to many other tech startups, which has made the neighborhood the richest in New York City.   

A wonderful way to spend a spring afternoon is a visit to Jane's Carousel.  This is a beautifully restored 1922 carousel, which originally was located in Idora Park in Youngstown, Ohio.
If you're a theater-goes who wants to experience innovative and lively theater I highly recommend  St. Ann's Warehouse. Started in 1980, St. Ann's Warehouse moved into its present building, an old spice milling factory in 2001. The renovated theater is a great place to view cutting-edge programs of all kinds. I had the good fortune last year to see Mark Rylance in its beautiful and intimate theater.  

I hope you've enjoyed our visit to Dumbo, D in the A to Z Blogging Challenge. We'll be back again when we discuss great pizza of New York City, but that's another letter. 

A special thank you to friends who have contributed suggestions and photographs. Some of you live in New York City, some of you have lived in New York City and some you have visited New York City. What you have in common is that you love New York.

As ever, thanks for visiting and please come back and visit tomorrow.