I spent the late morning in the vicinity of 59th Street and Fifth Avenue, the epicenter of Classic New York. After visiting with the carriage horses parked at Grand Army Plaza, I walked into the restored Plaza Hotel where I drank a cup of coffee, looked around at the new furniture and floor coverings and then gazed out a front window.
It was my first time back in the Plaza Hotel since the soft reopening, and I was disappointed that the place didn't smell like its older self - that mix of irises, spilled champagne, musty drapes, lingering cigar smoke, coffee, chocolate, and Joy perfume that I so strongly associate with my memory of the hotel. This morning, I smelled more fresh paint and sawdust than anything, and my attempt to enjoy a cup of coffee was interrupted by sounds of electric saws and shrill experiments with the hotel's PA system. I knew I was going to be a hard customer for the reopened Plaza, but many like myself associate great moments of our lives with this once-charmed place.
Leaving The Plaza, I wandered into surrounding stores, including Bergdorf Goodman (still very much like its older self, and in a good way) and FAO Schwarz, the legendary toy store. The Apple Store, with its clear cube above-ground entrance, seems well-settled in this location.
Yesterday, I passed by a Bond No. 9 perfume store, and posted in the window was Andy Warhol's quote, "My favorite smell is the first smell of spring in New York." Andy may have been pulling our leg, but leaning over the fence at 59th Street this morning to look at the first verdant signs of spring in Central Park, I thought, maybe, it could also be my favorite smell, too.
Images by Walking Off the Big Apple from Friday, April 11, 2008.
See related posts:
Classic New York: A Walk, and a Map
Classic New York: A Coda, on Bank Street
Classic New York: The Algonquin
Classic New York: Times Square
Classic New York: A Visit to Macy's, in April
Classic New York: Henri Bendel
Classic New York: The King Cole Bar at the St. Regis
The Classic New York of Mame Dennis
A Walk in Turtle Bay: Beekman Place, the U.N., Tudor City, and E. 42nd St.
The Liberation Theology of Mame Dennis
Grand Central Theatre, and A New Walk Begins
For more about Fifth Avenue, see the separate WOTBA walk, Fifth Avenue and the High Road to Taos.
UPDATE: WOTBA outtakes and additional photos NOW ON FLICKR.