Meet 75th Street
The Upper East Side, and 75th Street in particular, is one of the most child-friendly Manhattan spots I have come upon in my explorations. Not only does the neighborhood feel safe, warm, and friendly, but there are countless activities and stores that cater specifically to children of all ages.
For example, School of Rock, the music school for kids that inspired a movie and now a musical, has a location on this street. Bob Jones, the current music director, gave us a tour of the facilities where children learn to jam and sing like their favorite idols. Down the street, kids who prefer Picasso to the Rolling Stones can take classes or have parties at the Art Center, where Mark Rosenthal has been using his extensive knowledge of child development and his talented group of instructors to enhance the art skills of children and adults alike. Farther down on the same block, Julie Swift provides dance classes at Manhattan Dance Academy to a smiling army of girls and boys whose high jumps and kicks left me awe-struck.
For any of Julie’s students who want personalized dance wear or for any children who want to add a special something to their backpack or sweatshirt, there is Applike Couture, a store that specializes in the applique of sparkly designs onto all sorts of fabric. I met husband and wife owners Mark and Felicia Wollerstein, two familiar faces to the neighborhood, who often receive casual visits from the families on their way home from school. Right next door, Oslo Coffee Roasters is a relative newcomer to the neighborhood and a welcome arrival to both parents dropping kids off at the block’s many activities and neighbors craving an independent coffee shop.
Traveling west, I found two bastions of craftsmanship. Rustem Gungor services old books brought to him by collectors at Rustie’s Bookbinding. One of the last bookbinders in the city, he showed me around his workshop filled with ancient tools. For those with an interest in knitting, Valeria Kardos, a designer who opened Knitting 321 after leaving the fashion industry, is the perfect person to instruct both the inexperienced and the well-acquainted in this old-world craft.
Passing by Engine Company 44 on a beautiful day, I found the door open, and stepped inside to meet some of the firemen. They showed me around the house and tripled my knowledge about the FDNY. Leaving the firefighters, I stopped at Temple Israel, where I received an extensive tour of the six-floor building, observing the various children’s classes that were in session.
I then came upon a string of excellent dining spots. Somewhat hidden during the daytime hours, I was pleased to discover Seamstress, which combines a speakeasy atmosphere with outstanding cuisine and cocktails. At B Café, I was completely charmed not only by the Belgian cuisine, but by the personable bartender and other members of the staff. Eats Restaurant and Bar, known for burgers, oysters, and martinis, is a perfect spot to relax with family members.
Stepping inside Yuta Powell’s boutique and being greeted by this magnificent woman was a highlight for me. I initially could not take my eyes off of her. However, when I did, I discovered some of the most elegant and intriguing women’s clothing that I have seen on the side streets of Manhattan.
Heading across Central Park, I discovered another business dedicated to young children. It was wonderful to sneak a peek inside a class at the Center for Family Music before heading to ‘Cesca, a neighborhood Italian favorite not only for me, but for many of us who have been living on the Upper West Side for years. And what better way to end a day of walking than with a drink at Dive 75, a watering hole that has been serving its neighbors since 1998.