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Showing posts from 2014

A Ride and a Walk to BBQ in Red Hook, Brooklyn

On these leisurely summer weekend days, the smell of barbecue in the air is practically irresistible. Over the past month, I've found myself out in Red Hook in pursuit of the hometown smells of the Texas in my youth. The place is called Hometown Bar-B-Que, and it's the closest I've found - in terms of spacious ambience, woodsy smells, informality, the baby back ribs, Shiner Bock on tap, friendliness - to the Austin of my college years. Weirdly, outside the premises, Manhattan can be seen in the distance, and the best and most fun way to get there is via the IKEA ferry. You should try this some Saturday or Sunday. Hometown Bar-B-Que is one of several strong Red Hook businesses that have emerged following Hurricane Sandy, so have a look around. While out there, be sure to take in the unconventional views of the New York skyline and the Statue of Liberty. Directions: Find your way to Pier 11 (Wall Street) in Manhattan for the IKEA ferry. At the landing in Red Hook

Circumnavigating the "Sixth Borough": Views of the New York City Waterfront

If you've been working too hard and feel a need to reconnect with the city, I recommend sailing around it. For those interested in a little depth along with their getaway, I highly recommend Classic Harbor Line's AIANY Around Manhattan Architecture Tour.  Shipping out of Chelsea Piers, the architect-led voyage surveys the changing New York waterfront, aka the "sixth borough." This past Saturday, on a picture-postcard afternoon, I boarded the line's yacht, the Kingston, in the company of a few dozen visitors and natives. Some were architects; others were architecture enthusiasts. The trip begins at Chelsea Pier 62, sails south to New York Harbor and the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, and Governors Island; then up the East River to Roosevelt Island; up the Harlem River, the Harlem River Ship Channel to the Spuyten Duyvil Swing Bridge; and then south along the Hudson River again to Pier 62. Lasting a little over 3 hours, the tour feels like a crash cours

That's a Warbler, Maybe: Amateur Spring Birding in Inwood Hill Park

Note: This post from 2014 should get you in the mood for bird watching. In the thick green forests of Inwood Hill Park on Sunday, a splendid New York spring day suitable for most anything, I tried my best to find and take pictures of uncommon birds. This week in May is best for spring birding, migratory and otherwise. In the morning and afternoon I hiked the high thickets and valleys of the park. Along the southern rim, the section of high woods just north of Dyckman Street, amazing little birds appeared in abundance. I snapped pictures of Black and White Warblers, an American Redstart, a Yellow-rumped Warbler, a couple of Baltimore Orioles, an Orchard Oriole, a Swainson's Thrush, a few Northern Cardinals, several loud Blue Jays, and a ton of Chipping Sparrows. Later, below at the water's edge, I saw many shorebirds. At a local school near the entrance of the park, a Red-tailed Hawk perched on its favorite rooftop satellite dish (note 2018: The dish has been trashed, bu

Scaling the Heights: A Walk from the Base of Fort Tryon Park to W. 187th Street

A walk along the high grounds of Fort Tryon Park and The Cloisters south to Washington Heights equals any stroll in more publicized parts of New York City.   View of the Hudson River, looking north from Fort Tryon Park near The Cloisters Not that this area remains much of a secret these days. The motivation for my most recent stroll was prompted by a story published in The New York Times on March 28, 2014 titled "Downtown Food Goes North." The story suggests that Upper Manhattan, until recently, was a culinary wasteland, with nothing contemporary (i.e. local, artisan, farm-to-market) to eat.  Walk in Fort Tryon Park According to the  Times , the Upper Manhattan food scene is changing, sporting "the unmistakable signs of menu relevance." (Editorial aside: Of course, in a city that loses much of its older culture every day, I worry about so-called relevancy replacing traditional mainstays of the city, culinary or otherwise. But as lon

An Easy Spring Walk in Central Park: From the Museum of Natural History to the Metropolitan Museum of Art

Easter Sunday April 20, 2014 11:20 a.m. Central Park, New York On Easter Sunday, I had arranged to meet a friend on the steps of the Metropolitan Museum of Art at noon for an excursion around the galleries, an experience I dubbed "high church."  Easter Sunday April 20, 2014 11:24 a.m. Central Park, New York I live on the west side now, about as far up Manhattan as you can go, but I find the A and the C trains extremely useful in taking me downtown to the well-visited parts of "the city." For example, the 81st Street stop (American Museum of Natural History) on the C also offers quick access to the New-York Historical Society (corner of 77th and the park) and Central Park West. Easter Sunday April 20, 2014 11:42 a.m. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 5th Avenue, New York So, in anticipation of Sunday's event, I took the train downtown to W. 81st to start my walk to the other side of the park. Walking to the east si

Alexander Hamilton's The Grange

(Revised September 2015) Below is the dining room of the only real house  Alexander Hamilton (1757-1804) ever knew , a place he called The Grange,  built in the bucolic countryside of Harlem Heights north of what was then New York City. Hamilton Grange, operated by the National Park Service,  commemorates the life of this influential Founding Father.  The Federal Style house is located just off W. 141st Street between St. Nicholas Avenue and Convent Avenue.  In spite of the fake grapes and fake roses, it was here in this room that Hamilton started to come to life for me. He was an ambitious, stubborn and argumentative man, with a cold command of policy.  But rather not so great in politics.  I imagined him sitting at the head of this table, bantering with his children,  arguing about the nation's finances with guests,  or telling stories about George Washington. As I learned in the ranger-guided tour of the house on Sunday, he had to watch his own finances.  He cut

The Evening Commute at the 168th Street Station, Visions of Dystopia

At the beginning of rush hour in New York this evening, there was no #1 train service between 168th Street and 242nd Street. Typically, many commuters travel via the 1 train at the 168th Street Station in both directions. At the 168th Street Station, thousands upon thousands of people, every day, make a connection between the 1 train and the A/C trains. The 1 train travels up the city into Washington Heights, Inwood, and the Bronx, home to many of the city's working classes. This includes jazz musicians, service workers, and professionals for non-profit agencies. To make the connection at 168, workers must take an elevator. If the 1 train goes out in both directions, it is a problem.    Most people take the delays in stride. Often, one self-selected member of the crowd admonishes the others not to crowd the elevator. The alternative is to wait for the 1 train service to be restored. While waiting, commuters amuse themselves by enjoying the scenery alon