Tortoise Strolls

Archive for October 2010

100 United Nations Plaza

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A bit of a run-in for this witch!

Written by agnesbstanton

October 27, 2010 at 10:18 am

161 E. 70th St.

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Watch out for all the goals and goblins, witches and ghosts.

Written by agnesbstanton

October 27, 2010 at 8:56 am

Waterfalls in Manhattan

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Paley Park 3 E. 53rd St.

Known as a “pocket park” and sited as being one of the finest urban spaces in the Unites States, this park is all too easy to miss unless you know what you’re looking for. It is a privately-owned public space that was financed by the William S. Paley Foundation in memory of his father Samuel Paley. The site on which it stands was once the Stork Club until 1967 when it became the Paley Park. The dramatic 20 ft. waterfall looks especially lovely when its back lights come on in the evening hours. When in the neighborhood, the Paley Center for Media, formerly known as “The Museum of Television and Radio” is close by at 25 W. 52nd St. and worth checking out.

Greenacre Park 217 E. 51St.

This park has a rule about no photography which I didn’t realize until I got yelled at by the attendants who are always on duty. Oops! Being that it’s privately-owned, it has the right to make such rules. The photo I’ve attached below had to be taken from the sidewalk. It was first opened October 14, 1971 by the late Mrs. Jean Mauze, the former Abby Rockefeller. Designed by Hideo Sasaki with architect Harmon Goldstone serving as consultant, this park has a most unusual waterfall that cascades off of slightly cuspated granite rocks. Inside the park one really becomes oblivious to the outside world. All traffic noises are drowned out and peace proliferates. My favorite part of the park is the snack bar which serves some very reasonably-priced treats. Get your yummies along with a good book and settle in to some old-fashioned zoning out.

McGraw-Hill Mini Park Between 48th and 49th Streets in between 6th and 7th Ave.

This Park  serves as a walk-through in between 48th and 49th Streets and many busy mid-town workers enjoy the bypass on their way home from work especially after a long hard day at the office. I’ve seen more than one smile from people passing through, giving me the notion that this park definitely serves a purpose of uplifting one’s spirits. The waterfall itself is less typical and more interactive, letting you actually pass through it inside the tunnel, which is there to keep you from getting wet. The McGraw Building is next door and in order for the building to be built above 300ft. in height, the developers needed to give something back to the city, which they did by way of this public space.

East 72nd St. Between York Ave. and cul-de-sac ending in overlook onto East Rive and FDR Drive

I couldn’t find a story about this public space. Come to think of it, I couldn’t find any people there either. It’s a total secret unless you happen to accidentally wonder over.

Written by agnesbstanton

October 26, 2010 at 5:41 pm

Posted in Attractions, Parks

The “Black & White” Townhouses: 527,531,535, 541 East 72nd St.

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This unique set of four pre-war low-rises, built in 1894, housed some of the New York’s most interesting characters, especially in the field of literature. A few notable literati include Winston Groom who wrote Forest Gump, Adam Shaw son of Irwin, and the most famous of all the residents, George Plimpton who lived in 541 and also had his Paris Review offices in the same building. That sure made his commute to work easy. I would have loved to have George Plimpton’s job as it entailed stepping into the world of various occupations and writing about the experiences. He was known as the Professional Amateur. Some of his more memorable experiences include training with the Detroit Lions football team and playing in one of their off-season games, race-car driving the Indianapolis 500, and rehearsing with the Rolling Stones. Apart from such fun endeavors George had a serious job as an author and publisher as well as being the founding partner of the Paris Review. He was a great storyteller and he will be missed.

Ron Dante, a well-known music producer and song writer, also lived in one of the townhouses as well as Mary Gimbel, the department store heiress. According to Christopher Gray’s Streetscapes article, these townhouses were known as the “Social Register tenements” since many of the residents were in fact in the Social Register and enjoyed keeping a chic pied-a-terre on hand when in the city.

Today these townhouses stand alone amidst a flood of high rises and other luxury branded buildings. The neighborhood has drastically changed especially after 1980 when Sotheby’s Auction House moved into their new space on the corner of 72nd St. and York Ave. What was once a little sleepy nook, has livened up a bit. Unlike the rest of the cul-de-sac neighborhood, the four townhouses haven’t changed in the least. They have always been and will continue to be impeccably well-kept with true-red painted doors that always catch one’s eye. The major downside is that they do not offer an elevator as my husband remembers well. As a college student at NYU he lived in 535 E. 72nd St. all the way up on the fifth floor. When you’re young, walking up five flights of stairs won’t kill you, but it’s sure a drag after a late night out, especially when one has had a bit too much to drink. To make up for that inconvenience, his apartment living room had a view of the East River, from all of its five windows.

Written by agnesbstanton

October 23, 2010 at 3:07 pm

The French Crisis

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The irony of such a peaceful little French boy, enjoying his rowboat excursion in Central Park, deeply contrasts from the images that are identifying France these days.

Written by agnesbstanton

October 23, 2010 at 12:14 pm

Posted in Snapshots