Meet 90th Street
I welcomed the opportunity to walk along the stretch of green covering an entire city block at the start of 90th Street. It is the original Upper East Side campus of Asphalt Green, a non-profit organization that was founded in the 1970’s on the site of an abandoned asphalt plant. Along with the formidable turf field, the center includes an Olympic-size pool and colossal gym, all designed to further the organization’s goal of providing health and fitness to New Yorkers.
My second stop on the street was a more familiar green space: Ruppert Park is named for Colonel Jacob Ruppert, a brewer, sportsman, public official, and member of the National Guard. He was also the first co-owner of both Yankee Stadium and the team. I have spent many years relaxing on the benches here and enjoying the company of my grandparents who lived in the apartments surrounding the park.
Opposite the park is the Church of Our Lady of Good Counsel, which recently merged with the Church of Saint Thomas More. On the day that I visited in the midst of spring, it was beautifully decorated with cherry blossoms. I passed by a long line of historical mansions before stepping into the Church of the Heavenly Rest at Fifth Avenue. The Episcopalian sanctuary has elements of Art Deco, reflecting its early twentieth-century roots.
The New York International School is housed in the same building as the Church of the Heavenly Rest. The school is not, however, the only organization to borrow real estate from the church; In what used to be one of the old chapels, I discovered an outpost of Bluestone Lane Coffee. The café features both indoor and outdoor seating, offering customers the opportunity to take advantage of table service or grab-and-go options.
On the West side of 90th, I visited a third impressive church, St. Gregory the Great. Originally built to cater to the growing Catholic community on the Upper West Side, the church has now resided on the same plot of land for over a century. As another example of long-lasting architecture, I passed the Stephen Gaynor School, which is housed inside a historic townhouse that used to be home to the Claremont Riding Academy. The remainder of my walk was spent contemplating the fact that the farther north I travel, the more residential the neighborhoods become. I hope that the day will not come when 90th Street will be as busy as midtown, for it certainly provides a happy respite from the city’s hubbub.