One of the great benefits of Manhattan Sideways is the opportunity to explore parts of the city that receive little attention. For example, there are a few stables on the far west side that provide homes for the carriages and horses that navigate through Central Park, one of the great tourist attractions of New York. I have thoroughly enjoyed meeting the people who run these stables and spending time with them and their horses. Everyone has a fascinating story to share, including the inviting and enthusiastic mother and daughter team, Gloria and Anita.
For close to fifty years, Chateau Stables has been a family business. Sadly, Gloria lost her husband in 2003, but the two women have continued to carry on the tradition of providing a multitude of carriage rides for any occasion. For the ultimate entrance to a wedding or sweet sixteen, there are Cinderella coaches or elegant antique carriages. There are even one-hundred-year-old horse-drawn hearses, an Amish buggy and a Roman chariot that was used in the original Ben-Hur movie. There are endless ways to be transported by their beautiful horses and impeccably kept carriages in and around the city. Chateau even offers hay rides in their fashionable wagons in Central Park and, for the little ones, pony parties right in their stable on 48th on Saturdays and Sundays from noon until 5:00pm. And recently, they brought horseback riding back to the park.
While spending time with Anita and Gloria, I learned that the building I was standing in was 150 years old and has always been used as a stable. Anita told me that they both board and own horses, but every three months they rotate the animals out of the city to their farm in Pennsylvania. The carriages are all housed in New Jersey but the four precious ponies are kept here with the ladies.
There was no doubt that Anita and her mom are passionate about their business. As Anita said, "For us, it is not just a family business, but a lifestyle...and one that we continue to adore."
Through talking to and meeting the people behind this impressive establishment, the Manhattan Sideways team has gained great affection for these stables, and the people who run them. We are grateful for the generous insight to this iconic New York institution, which unfortunately may not be around for very much longer due to the continued effort to impose a ban that would eliminate horse-drawn carriages as soon as mid-2016.
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.