Browsing: New York City

NYC Trip Report-Day 3

June16

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The view from our room at Wingate by Wyndham Midtown. Perfectly located within walking distance of so many attractions, the room was comfortable, the staff helpful and accommodating.

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Since 1884 Bryant Park is situated behind the New York Public Library in midtown Manhattan, between 40th and 42nd Streets & Fifth and Sixth Avenues. Although I love Central Park and others in the east village, Bryant has been my favourite since D discovered it whilst roaming around and killing time while I attended a media seminar in Times Square.

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The park itself invites is set up in a relaxing fashion with chairs available to pull together and face the sun.

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The perimeter of the park is as picturesque as the park itself with many historic buildings that can be viewed through the trees.

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The Bryant Park Grill features new American-style dining set against the stunning backdrop of Bryant Park. Seasonal patio and rooftop dining provide great views of the park. It is located behind the library, on Bryant Park’s Upper Terrace between 40th and 42nd Streets.

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A bronze bust can be seen just to the west of the Bryant Memorial. Sculptor Jo Davidson created a bust of the American writer Gertrude Stein in 1923, now in the collection of the Whitney Museum of American Art. The Bryant Park bust is a cast made from the original.

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The lawn is lush and green and the flowers change seasonally but Bryant Park is more than a garden. When you first discover it, nestled in its canyon of skyscrapers, it’s like an oasis–a refuge of peace and calm. But Bryant Park is a city park, full of historical monuments and urban amenities. The park is a social place where friends meet, eat lunch, chat, stroll, listen to music, work on the wireless network, or simply sit and think. Winter, summer, spring, and fall, New Yorkers love this park.

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Six flower beds border Bryant Park’s Lawn to the north and south–two on the shady South side and three on the sunny North. They are planted seasonally with 100 species of woody shrubs and herbaceous perennials and 20,000 bulbs.

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Today’s version of Bryant Park–with its gravel paths, green chairs, and jaunty le carrousel–is a recent invention. Though the space has been called Bryant Park since 1842, the park has had a checkered career. By 1979, it was the site of frequent muggings and drug deals and was avoided by knowledgeable New Yorkers. An almost ten-year effort, begun in 1980, transformed the park and its reputation.

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Along the Northern and Southern sides of the park are twin promenades bordered by London plane trees (Platanus acerifolia). This is the same species found at the Jardin des Tuileries in Paris, and contributes a great deal to Bryant Park’s European feel. These trees can grow up to 120 feet in height.

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At the western gateway to the park is the pink granite Josephine Shaw Lowell Memorial Fountain, dedicated in 1912. This was the city’s first public memorial dedicated to a woman. Lowell (1843-1905) was a social worker and founder of the Charity Organization Society. Charles Adams Platt designed the fountain.

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Pétanque is a French game of “boules” (French for balls), where each player strives to throw metal balls as close as possible to a smaller wooden ball, named the “cochonnet”. Most games are played in teams, and are staged on the gravel area near the Sixth Avenue and 42nd Street corner. Tournaments are played on the gravel paths around the Bryant Park lawn. Game strategies include “pointing” when a player throws his ball to have it roll as close to the cochonnet as possible, and “shooting” when a player aims for the ball of an opponent, hoping to move him out of a favorable spot.

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I get out my novel and perch my feet on an extra chair while D loves to linger over a New York newspaper. We pretend that we are New Yorkers.

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Since Bryant Park s right next door to the New York Public Library, we often stop in there as well. When we first visited we found the reading room that looked like it was right out of “Ghostbusters”!

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Sculptor Edward Clark Potter created the lions, which were carved in pink Tennessee marble by the Piccirilli brothers. They were later nicknamed “Patience” and “Fortitude” by Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia.

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The New York Public Library building was designed by John Merven Carrère and Thomas Hastings. The magnificent Beaux-Arts building sits on a terrace that was designed to elevate the building above surrounding streets, to provide gathering places for people, and to provide a setting for public sculpture.

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The fountains on either side of the library’s entrance are Truth” on the (South) side and “Beauty” on the (North). They are the works of the major American sculptor Frederick William MacMonnies.

Feeling a little peckish by this time, we find a New York deli called Ben’s. Read all about it here.

Kath’s quote: “The true New Yorker secretly believes that people living anywhere else have to be, in some sense, kidding.”  ― John Updike

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Love never fails.

 

 

 

Ben’s Deli-NYC

June15

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Not far from our hotel in Midtown Manhattan last fall, we came upon Ben’s Kosher Deli. We hadn’t planned on filling up quite to the extent that we did. We had previously decided to eat rather light as we were catching a plane for a transatlantic journey later that evening.  We immediately sampled the cole slaw and two varieties of pickles-one traditional style and another just barely pickled.

The enormous menu was hard to sort through and make a decision as there were just too many choices.

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We were not quite sure what we had gotten ourselves into but we were impressed by the ambience and settled in.

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Before long our “server” appeared. I use the word “server” loosely as this fellow thought that he was there to entertain us more than provide us with food.

When we inquired what a “kreplach” was he said: “Have you ever tasted a wonton? Well then you have tasted kreplach”. We ended up ordering chicken noodle soup with extra kreplach.

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D had his sights set on a pastrami sandwich that I enjoyed a taste of, but never could consumer an entire sandwich (or even half).

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I went to one of my old favourites “fresh” cut fries. Actually they were made from baked potatoes likely left over from the day before. Those old baked potatoes may have been “freshly” cut but the potato wasn’t “fresh” to start. This was an old trick that D and I learned in our early restaurant days. We used left over baked potatoes and lightly fried them and then loaded them with cheese and bacon bits to make potato skins.

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Back to our waiter for a minute. He asked us where we were from and immediately indicated that he had been to Winnipeg once in January and how much he loved it and the vibrant comedy scene. Turns out he knew a friend of ours who used to run a comedy club. When we caught up with that friend months later, he had some outrageous stories of his own to tell.

Ben's Kosher Delicatessen Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Kath’s quote: “New York is a gothic Roquefort.”-Salvador Dali

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Love never fails.

NYC Trip Report -Day 2

May29

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To start day two, we purchased coffees and wandered to the many riverside walkways for views of Manhattan. We had never stayed anywhere other than Manhattan on our trips to NYC, preferring to stay right in the heart of the action. But staying in Jersey City (and later Queens), we enjoyed the Manhattan skyline and were minutes away from via subway.

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The first time we visited NYC the twin towers stood tall. The second time was after 911. So glad to see a new tower in this place.

But we were on the move again, dropping our bags at the Wyndham Midtown and deciding what to do with on an overcast day. I have long been fascinated by NYC and have taken many guided tours, wanting to see and learn about it all. It turned out that D had never experienced a double decker bus tour with the corny, wise-cracking  NY tour guides speaking over the tinny sound systems. So we were off on a quintessential tour of Manhattan.

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You may not recognize the Empire State Building from this angle and without the characteristic spire in the photo. D and I had visited the building on one of our previous trips including views from the outdoor observation deck.

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The spire of the Marble Collegiate Church caught my eyes with the Empire State Building spire in the background. Here is the history of the church cut and pasted from the churches website.

In 1628, four years after the founding of the Dutch colony of New Amsterdam, Reverend Jonas Michaelius arrived from Holland to organize what is now known as the Collegiate Church of New York, whose oldest remaining building is Marble Church. As the first ordained minister in New Amsterdam, Reverend Michaelius conducted the first worship service in a gristmill on what is now South William Street, when the entire population of the city was less than 300. The first church elder was Governor Peter Minuit, who had recently purchased Manhattan Island from the Native Americans. Peter Stuyvesant, Director General of New Amsterdam, led worshippers to Sunday service and would impose a fine on anyone who did not attend church!

When the British took over the city in 1664 and renamed it New York, they allowed the Dutch Reformed Church to continue its worship traditions. King William III granted the church a Royal Charter in 1696, making the Collegiate Church the oldest corporation in America.

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The iconic Flat Iron Building. This is what I learned about it from Wikipedia.

The Flatiron Building, originally the Fuller Building, is a triangular 22-story  steel-framed landmarked building located at 175 Fifth Avenue in the borough of Manhattan, New York City, and is considered to be a groundbreaking skyscraper. Upon completion in 1902, it was one of the tallest buildings in the city at 20 floors high, and one of only two skyscrapers north of 14th Street – the other being the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company Tower, one block east. The building sits on a triangular block formed by Fifth Avenue, Broadway and East 22nd Street, with 23rd Street grazing the triangle’s northern (uptown) peak. As with numerous other wedge-shaped buildings, the name “Flatiron” derives from its resemblance to a cast-iron clothes iron

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The Woolworth Building

 Designed in 1926 by Cass Gilbert, who also designed the landmark Woolworth Building, the massive building, which was inspired by Salisbury Cathedral, rises forty stories to its pyramidal gilded roof and occupies the full block between 26th and 27th Streets, Madison Avenue and Park Avenue South, a rarity in Manhattan. The building stands 615 feet (187 m) tall and contains 40 floors. It was the last significant Gilbert skyscraper in Manhattan.

The building was completed in 1928 after two years of construction at the cost of $21 million. It combines streamlined Gothic details and distinctly Moderne massing. The gold pyramid at the top consists of 25,000 gold-leaf tiles

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I have long been fascinated by the numerous water tanks on the roofs of Manhattan. This is how they came to be:

According to Kate Ascher, author of The Works: Anatomy of a City, as the city underwent vertical expansion in the late nineteenth-century, the need for technological innovation in the realm of water supply soon became evident. Prior to the escalation of skyscrapers and multi-storied buildings, the water would naturally rise to the height of six floors due to the natural pressure of the street mains system. However, with increasing urbanization, a solution quickly arrived — the rooftop water tank.

In short, the municipal water supply system delivers water to a basement pump which then sends the water to the roof. There, rings made of galvanized steel encircle the barrel and apply pressure in order to prevent leakage. Without any type of adhesive, these tanks can last 30-35 years.

Now you know too.

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Of the numerous places we have stayed in NYC, our favourite is a brownstone in the East Village. We past through the hood on our tour.

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We love the tree-lined streets and the low rise buildings.

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We also love the fire escapes on Village apartments. I thought that this one looked like the exterior shot in Friends. See the similarity?

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With the new World Trade Centre spire in the background, I love the contrasts to these in the foreground. Can you help me identify them?

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The St. Paul Chapel Church that played such a key roll post 911.

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I have never seen the New York Stock Exchange Bull look like the above image, only the way it looks in this image, crowded with tourists getting their pictures taken with it.

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I am fairly sure that the image below is the Brooklyn Bridge but the Manhattan Bridge above also connects to Brooklyn. Is it called the Manhattan bridge?

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We concluded the tour, headed back to hotel for a little break and then were off again to New Jersey to see our Winnipeg Jets play the Devils in their 2015/2016 home game opener. Jets won!

Kath’s quote: “It comes down to reality,  And it’s fine with me cause I’ve let it slide,  I don’t care if it’s Chinatown or on Riverside,  I don’t have any reasons, I left them all behind,  I’m in a New York state of mind.” –Billy Joel

Love never fails.

 

 

 

 

 

Thai Son, Queens, NYC

January8

Another restaurant that I had the pleasure of visiting in NYC.

On our many visits to New York we have always stayed in Manhattan but this time we discovered how easy it is to get in and out of Manhattan and enjoy the more affordable lodging in the Burroughs like Queens. More about this fascinating neighbourhood in a future post. In the mean time I made a solo visit to Thai Son while D was on a Brewery adventure.

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The spot was busy with solo diners who I imagined were business people on their lunch breaks. Service was efficient and the dishes were proudly served by the kitchen staff.

I was tempted by the Com Suon Bi Cha (grilled pork chop and shredded pork) that I had seen raves about but in the end opted for my favourite Vietnamese dish-Banh Hoi Thit. This noodle dish (which is then wrapped into clingy rice paper) makes a great little packet that can be eaten on the go. In Viet Nam the dish is a breakfast one-kind of like their version of an egg mcmuffin. Given the two, I would rather have the former, any morning of my week.

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Rice vermicelli noodles are lightly steamed and become extra sticky so that the toppings of your choice will adhere together when wrapped into the rice wrapper. The strings of noodles are as thin as a toothpick but the texture is firm enough so the noodles do not fall apart. When topped with what I call “candied” pork, that is thin pork strips that have been marinated in a sugary sauce and then char-broiled, I am crazy about the taste. The sugared peanuts add another dimension and are perfect when offset by the variety of vegetables that accompany: lettuce leaves, cucumbers, cabbage, carrot, mint and pickled onions. When the packet is plunged into fish sauce you are treated to another hit of sweetness.

Sweet/salty is my favourite taste profile.

Thai Son is one of the many ethnic restaurants found in Jefferson Heights-a foodies’ dream come true.

Thái Son Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Kath’s quote: “New York is a gothic Roquefort.”-Salvador Dali

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Love, that is all.

 

Tavern on the Green, Central Park, NYC

January6

Sometimes when I am organizing my expenses (which I do quarterly) I realize that I have dined at an amazing place that I have forgotten to write about and share the adventure with you my loyal readers. Such is the case with this iconic place.

On our arrival day in NYC en route to Milan and then Tuscany, we had a picnic in Central Park in the late afternoon just as the sun was “setting” behind the urban landscape of skyscrapers. We stayed in New Port that evening and we were reluctant to leave all of our favourite sites in Manhattan.

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So we wandered through the park and decided that it might be nice to stop for a thirst-quenching beer. We thought of crossing the street to the Upper West Side when we accidently came upon Tavern on the Green.

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There was a private reception taking place in the courtyard and because we had already had our picnic, we didn’t want to go to the dining room for a full meal (besides we were dressed for a picnic, not Manhattan dining). So we opted for the quaint Beer Garden appointed with picnic benches overlooking the “green” and the beautiful and historic apartments of the Upper East Side (think The Dakota) as the backdrop.

October evenings are still fair in NYC and it was the perfect choice.

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I let D do the beer selecting and whatever it was he chose for me was refreshing and delicious. Nothing quenches my thirst like a cold beer. You?

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The food menu showcased simple fare and we selected a Polish Kielbasa

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and Potato Latkes. The latter were a bit overdone and greasy for our liking but hey, it was our first evening in NYC, we were not inclined to make a fuss and send them back.

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Simple food, served in a garden in Central Park in one of our favourite cities in the world. What could be wrong with that?

Tavern on the Green Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Kath’s quote: “There is nothing yet which has been contrived by man by which so much happiness is produced as by a good tavern.” –Samuel Johnson

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Love, that is all.

 

 

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