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Showing posts from September, 2015

7 Walks from the 7 Train, 34 Street-Hudson Yards Subway Station

Hudson Yards on the west side of Manhattan is a work in progress and will be so for several years to come. Become acquainted with the area's construction sites, detours, and barriers, as they'll be here for awhile. A visit to the north end of the High Line or to the new 7 train extension at 34th Street, discussed here, involves negotiating a landscape of high cranes and big digs. I was reminded of Ashcan School artist George Bellows's paintings of the excavations for the original Penn Station, that palace of transportation so famously torn down to make room for Madison Square Garden. I think he must have painted the pictures near this very spot. Anyway, we're in another chapter of that (west side) story.  



With the High Line, the conversion of rails to trails is part of a metamorphosis of a working manufacturing city into a recreational one. With Hudson Yards, the equivalent of a small city is taking shape over the rails.



The new 34 Street-Hudson Yards Subway Station,…

Photo: Mural for NYC Visit of Pope Francis

As part of his historic trip to New York City, Pope Francis will celebrate mass later today at Madison Square Garden. This enormous mural on the side of a building on 8th Avenue and W. 35th Street is sponsored by the Diocese of Brooklyn. The work can easily be seen from One Penn Plaza and will be up for a few more weeks. Take the subway or bus to Penn Station for easy access.




Images by Walking Off the Big Apple from Thursday, September 24, 2015. Click on images to enlarge them.

In Love with Albertine, a Bookshop on Fifth Avenue

Albertine, the elegant bookstore inside the mansion housing the Cultural Services of the French Embassy at 972 Fifth Avenue (Fifth at 79th St.), is hard to forget. Anyone who has ever fallen in love with French language or culture may find that love rekindled here. Set within the Payne Whitney mansion, itself a masterpiece by Stanford White, the two-story shop provides an intimate stage set for adventures in cultural exchange. The starry blue and gold ceiling mural reminded me of my first French literary crush, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry's Le Petit Prince.


In addition to the interior design, Albertine's extensive selection of works in English and French led me to recall many more infatuations with notable French literary, cultural and philosophical figures. The shop, named for Marcel Proust's object of desire, is set up to evoke memories and trigger associations. I was delighted to find so many books by French writer Patrick Modiano, the 2014 Nobel prize winner, not just bec…

The Wilderness and the Garden: A Walk through Northern Central Park

This walk from west to east in the northern section of Central Park explores a variety of terrain, from the open spaces of The Great Hill to the wilderness of The Loch and The Ravine to the highly cultivated Conservatory Garden. A map follows.



Getting lost in the wooded areas of Central Park may not be everyone's cup of tea, but it usually doesn't last long. Amidst thick and tall trees, abundant vines on the understory, gentle waterfalls, busy chipmunks, and running streams, the city falls away. Landmarks that usually function as helpful exterior compass marks - for example, the San Remo apartment towers on the west, the Carlyle Hotel on the east, the Essex House Hotel on the south - disappear in the thicket.


Yet, context is everything. Knowing that this adventure is happening within well-defined boundaries on one of the busiest islands in the world lends the sojourn a tinge of artifice or simulation. More than once, I have found myself turned completely around in the park…

Summer on the River: Views of the Hudson, Close and From Afar

The summer is coming to a close, and I felt like I spent a good part of it on the Hudson River. There's something soothing and reinvigorating about heading down to the river, or traveling up the river as the case may be, and it makes a mighty big city seem small, even impermanent. Watching the ebb and flow of the water brings to mind notions of eternity, a place of watery blueness meant for endless sailing or swimming or for washing clothes or for baptism or for setting out in a raft in a great adventure.



Explorations of the Hudson River can begin anywhere along its shores and last a lifetime. The museum at 99 Gansevoort St. in the Meatpacking District of Manhattan is not a bad place to start. The new Whitney Museum of American Art (above) offers big views of Lower Manhattan, New Jersey, New York Harbor, and the river. The first time I visited the museum, I swept past the art to explore the terraces outside. It was all so airy and blue. Inside, where stairways offer great views o…