Meet 58th Street
With a captivating view of the East River, and the Ed Koch Queensboro Bridge (also known as the 59th Street Bridge) looming large above it, 58th Street – like many others in the high fifties – starts with a sliver of Sutton Place Park.
Only a short distance from the river, I entered Bistro Vendôme, a charming French restaurant co-run by married couple Virginie and Pascal Petiteau. Just next door to it, I was completely captivated by Bill Malloy, owner of Mastersmiths, as he shared his knowledge and passion for the vast collection of knives and swords that comprise his exclusive Manhattan retail business.
Navigating my way through the traffic of cars attempting to enter the bridge from 58th, I became intrigued by the two striking houses that stand alone in the midst of imposing skyscrapers. Both structures were built in the 1850s and are representative of the period. Today, one not only contains the stunning collection of Phillip Colleck, a shop filled with antique English furniture and art pieces from the eighteenth and early nineteenth century, but it is also where owners of the shop, Diana and Mark Jacoby, reside.
Tearing myself away from the fascinating conversation with the Jacoby’s, I continued across 58th only to find that I was surrounded by interior decorating shops – an area that some refer to as ‘Designer’s Row.’ Among them is Illumé, a store specializing in lamps and shades with an adjoining repair shop. And, a bit farther, I stepped inside Hästens, the beautifully curated store selling high-end beds and mattresses handmade in Sweden. Scattered between these were several terrific Indian restaurants and Felidia, an Italian staple since 1981.
The impressive Bloomberg tower at Beacon Court houses the iconic restaurant Le Cirque. Together with other members of the Manhattan Sideways team, we were invited to a behind-the-scenes tour of what transpires at one of the most renowned eating institutions in the world. While shaking hands with Maccioni family members, we filmed Sabrina Wender as she performed in the adjoining brasserie, Cafe Cirque. On another splendid evening, we returned to celebrate Le Cirque’s fortieth anniversary where Andrea Bocelli performed.
Arriving at Fifth Avenue, and introducing those who work with Manhattan Sideways to the famous, now closed, FAO Schwarz was a memorable moment of a different kind. The excitement and amazement on their faces was equal to that of a young child’s as we wandered through this enchanting toy store. Equally entertaining, was taking them to the shops at the Plaza. I, too, was utterly astonished by the high-end children’s boutique Couture Kids, where miniature fashion pieces and accessories from Fendi, Versace and Cavalli took center stage.
Continuing west, I was elated to finally be able to tell readers about a building that captured my attention years ago. Alwyn Court was inspired by the sixteenth century style of the French Renaissance – the entire facade is covered in an intricate and ornate terra cotta. The initial concept was to design Alwyn Court to be as lavish as possible with only two immense apartments on each floor. When completed, towards the end of the first decade of the 1900s, the developers were hoping to attract those who owned a country house and now wanted something that closely represented a “city home.” The building was occupied in this fashion until the late 1930s when new owners subdivided the floors, making it accessible to far more tenants. In 1966, it was landmarked by the city and to this day, continues to be one of the more luxurious addresses to reside in Manhattan. Located inside this splendid edifice, is Petrossian, a family-run Russian restaurant that has an international reputation as the leading purveyor of caviar, having been at the forefront of this business for generations.
Across Seventh Avenue, there is a short line of piano stores still remaining in the area known as “piano row.” Stopping in at Faust Pianos, I learned that they are the largest retailer of rebuilt top brand pianos in the country. About to end my day on 58th, I ascended the escalator to Hudson Hotel, and was able to warm up while relaxing on a cozy chair with hot chocolate at the seasonal Hudson Lodge. While reflecting on my day, I realized that in the course of walking river to river, I had traversed from the 1850’s to the early 1900s, to modern day, and got to be a child again in the middle of it all.