Kurt Vonnegut, who grew up not in New York but in Indiana, famously said, “I went to New York City to be born again.” Vonnegut was the author of classics like Cat’s Cradle and Slaughterhouse Five, novels with elements of science fiction, surrealism, and satire that ultimately evade categorization. He lived in this apartment for over forty years, until the end of his life in 2007.
In 1919, America's first major tabloid newspaper, the Daily News, was founded. In need of a home in 1929, the paper began construction on the Daily News Building, completing it a year later. The bold vertical stripes by architect Raymond Hood influenced his design of the subsequent Rockefeller Center. No longer headquarters to the Daily News (the paper moved out in 1995), it is still a showstopper, as it was the home of the Daily Planet in 1978's Superman. Remaining in the lobby is the enormous globe (although it is a bit out of date geopolitically), spinning slowly twenty-four hours a day. The lobby is visually striking, with the globe sitting under a black dome meant to simulate the cosmos. A compass of marble surrounds the globe, pointing the way to other cities, while astronomical measurements are detailed in ornate script. It is a spectacular site to behold for anyone in the vicinity.
An iconic piece of the New York skyline, the Chrysler building was the tallest building in the world upon its completion in 1930, before being surpassed eleven months later by the Empire State Building. To this day, however, the building remains a masterpiece of Art Deco in the center of Manhattan, an ever-present point by which to navigate while meandering through the side streets. Upon the buildings completion, fifty-five of the seventy-seven floors were used as office space, with the upper twenty-two a mixture of luxe dining rooms and a penthouse living space for Walter Chrysler (of automotive fame). Unlike others in the city, the Chrysler is not for tourists. The lobby is old-world and attractive, but that is all that visitors are allowed to view. No taking the elevator to the highest floor to gaze out over New York, although the crown it wears atop its impressive frame as it gazes skyward ensures that it will continue to capture the imagination of each of us from the ground.
St. Bartholomew's, affectionately nicknamed St. Bart's, was built between 1916 and 1930 in the simplified Byzantine style. Sitting on an entire block amidst 50th and 51st Streets, the dramatic exterior has always caught my attention while traveling on Park Avenue. It was not until recently, while I was walking on the side streets, that I finally ventured indoors to appreciate the limestone walls, the magnificent stained glass windows, and the intricately designed dome. Designated as a landmark in 1967, St. Bart's is home to the largest organ in New York - and one of the ten largest in the world.
Initially serving as a resting stop for Scandinavian sailors when they disembarked in lower Manhattan, the Swedish Seaman's Church opened its doors on Water Street in 1873. The neo-Gothic building in which the Church currently resides was constructed in 1921 for "The Bible House" before being sold to the Church of Sweden in 1978. The Church's nautical past is evidenced in the model boats placed among the large collection of Swedish books. With a chapel, a library, and a coffee shop, the Church's doors are always open to Swedes. While tasting their delicious Swedish buns, I chatted with the staff who spoke enthusiastically about the function that the center plays in people's lives. For families, it provides a "wind" of Sweden whenever they miss their homeland. There are also multiple weddings conducted in the chapel each week, and people come from all over to celebrate holidays and shop at their Christmas Bazaar.
Clinton Garden is a striking testament to the power of residential communities in New York. One of the earliest examples of urban agricultural reclamation, the garden was created in 1979 in a lot that had been abandoned for twenty-eight years. Seeing potential in the space and hoping to improve the area around the neighborhood, residents (with the help of Operation Green Thumb, which leased the lot from the city) transformed the VACANT property into a garden using reclaimed and salvaged bricks, concrete, and slate. Finding the gates open on a beautiful spring Saturday, I wandered in and strolled down the paths filled with magnificent flowers and shrubs. I also met committed people tending to their small plots of land, of which there are now over one hundred. I have since been back many times, as I think this is a magnificent retreat on those days that I am in a need of a place to rest while walking the side streets of Manhattan.
Tucked between a Swiss and an Italian restaurant, Scent Elate brings Eastern spirituality to the neighborhood. With the doors swung open, the aromas were an enticing trail that led me into this tiny boutique packed with an array of incense, candles, soaps, oils and lotions. Scent Elate also has books on meditation and yoga scattered among crystals, jewelry, chimes and hanging ornaments. In fact, it might just be "the" place to go when searching for sticks of incense - not only is there a vast selection, but Mo, the owner, makes a special effort to find the perfect scent to enhance each individual customer's environment.
Named after Bible verses in Isaiah (the wolf and the lamb shall feed together), this restaurant opened in Manhattan in 1998, and expanded to Brooklyn the following year. Initially a traditional kosher deli, it later reinvented itself as a steakhouse. The extensive menu ranges from matzo ball soup to salmon burgers, veal Bolognese gnocchi and, of course, includes a variety of steaks and chops. Drawing on influences as diverse as Vietnamese, Tex-Mex, and French-country, Wolf and Lamb adapts its more customary function to a cosmopolitan venue. "Just because you're keeping kosher doesn't mean you have to sacrifice on quality, " shared a waitress. And while we were told that the majority of customers keep kosher regularly, the crowded space was testament to Wolf and Lamb's broad culinary appeal.