Sunday, April 30, 2017

Let's Take a Ride on the Second Avenue Subway

One of the stations on New York's newest subway line, the Second Avenue Subway
The newest subway line, the Second Avenue Subway,  opened in January of this year after decades of planning. I visited on its first day of service and wrote the blog post in the link. With it's high ceilings it's very different than the stations that began subway service in New York City, built over 100 years ago. Whether you're a fan of mass transit -- as I am -- or simply want to admire our beautiful new stations, it's worth a visit to the Upper East Side to see them. 

I'm a tremendous fan of the art work in the new stations -- not simply because a friend was the art project manager -- but because I feel that I've stepped into an art gallery at each station. The work at the 72nd Street station was done by the Brazilian artist, Vik Muniz and the pieces at 86th Street -- one is shown below -- were done by the American artist, Chuck Close.  

My next post in this series -- later this week -- is going to be about using mass transit to get around New York City and I will give my tips to subway and bus usage. I'm a mass transit rider and especially enjoy riding the subway. Taxis are fine, but for getting around quickly, I'll take the subway.  

I'm joining my Pink Saturday buddies for some weekend fun. I hope that you will stop by and visit.

May looks to be a busy in month in Buttercupland. We'll still be visiting around New York City with the completion of New York from A to Z. Tomorrow I'm starting a walking challenge to celebrate the beautiful weather of May, and the month finishes with my college reunion. It's busy, it's fun and it will be even more fun if you're part of the good times.

As ever, thanks for visiting and take good care!    


Thursday, April 27, 2017

Rockefeller Center

For our "R" post of A to Z Blogging Challenge we're going to one of the most iconic sites in Manhattan, Rockefeller Center. Rockefeller Center was John D. Rockefeller's legacy to New York City. Completed in May, 1933 the immense project employed over 40,000 people during its construction, which was a major source of employment at the depth of the Depression. The legendary Christmas Tree Tradition began in 1931 and the icing skating rink opened in 1936. 

Prometheus stands guard over the icing skating rink. The statue is the work of the American sculptor, Paul Manship. One of the aspects of Rockefeller Center that deserves its own post is the range of sculpture, mosaic and murals that are a large part of the complex. Prometheus is only one very small -- but outstanding -- part of the art collection found here.  

I love the topiary rabbits in the spring, the chrysanthemum displays in the fall and the Christmas decorations at the end of the year. My first job in New York was two blocks away and I was a frequent visitor during my lunch hours.
The NBC Studios are located in Rockefeller Center.
A theater was planned as part of Rockefeller Center. However, the theater was conceived as one like no other in the world. The new radio company, RCA (Radio Corporation of America) joined with Rockefeller and Samuel Roxy Rothafel, who had previously opened the Roxy Theater to create what would become a legendary attraction.      

The 6,000 seat art deco Radio City Music Hall opened in December 1932. In January 1933 the format of a movie and a stage show with the Rockettes was adopted. I have wonderful memories of visiting New York with my parents. My big treat was lunch at the automat and seeing a movie and the show at Radio City.   

It's very soon to be April 27 and despite my good intentions it's highly unlikely I will finish the A to Z Blogging Challenge in April. I will post some of the last eight letters of the alphabet in April, but the remainder of posts will be published in May. For anyone keeping track, that includes the missing "H."

Our next stop will be the newest subway stations in the system, the Second Avenue subway. I hope you will join us for the most artistic ride in the city.

As ever, thanks for visiting and take good care!

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.