Meet 43rd Street
Although it did not last long, there was a beautiful, warm day in the middle of February (2014), when I was ambling down 43rd Street. I began by ascending a staircase to Tudor City, the quiet and quaint residential area far to the east overlooking the United Nations. I found people relaxing on the benches in Tudor City Greens, a small neighborhood park. They were out with their dogs, reading the newspaper and simply soaking up the sun, despite the snow surrounding them. Continuing to stroll, I could see the glass of the UN glistening in the sunlight and the East River behind it. It was a moment to behold.
I had discovered the Ford Foundation on 42nd Street, but I was perfectly content to slip into their atrium once again, as they have two entrances to this modern structure, and to be reminded of the prodigious endeavors that this organization pursues for social change in the world. In addition to Pietro’s, the Italian restaurant that has been serving families for generations, I had the pleasure of discovering the hidden Japanese eatery, Sakagura, in the basement of a commercial building. And, right next door, at ground level, is one of Manhattan’s top sushi restaurants, Sushi Yasuda.
Wandering west and crossing over Fifth Avenue, a bit of history seeped in. The Century Association, initially a club for distinct men in the arts, followed by the Princeton Club and then Fire Engine Company 65, built in the late 1800s, all wowed me with their intriguing stories. Reaching the Town Hall, however, was the most gratifying for me. For seventy years, until the 1990s, it was a renowned lecture hall. Town Hall was also the home of the New York University Club for several decades and a place that I, literally, grew up in, as my father was a founding member. Today, thanks to a dear family friend, Marvin Leffler, the Town Hall remains intact, with landmark status, bringing first-rate entertainment into its auditorium. Across the way is the Stephen Sondheim Theatre, originally named for the actor and producer, Henry Miller in 1918.
As on each previous traverse, West 43rd has an array of fine dining spots. Hakkasan is a high-end Chinese restaurant, Esca is Dave Pasternack’s melodious ode to fish, and a newcomer to this street is Bea Restaurant and Bar, a marvelous upscale pub with simple, yet striking decor and a great American menu. What better way to finish up my walk than to purchase tickets for the Off Broadway show, Satchmo, at the adjacent Westside Theatre. It captivated me from the instant John Douglas Thompson stepped onto the stage portraying the life of Louis Armstrong.