Since opening on 67th Street in 1928, this laundry and cleaners has seen a good deal of evolution, and has always stayed in the hands of the same family - none of which were ever named Jim. Though it was originally called Chin's Laundry after its initial owner, the shop became "Jim Lee Laundry and Cleaners" in response to the American mispronunciation of "Chin. "Before the Second World War, the Lees lived inside the store, but from 1948-1960 they resided upstairs at No. 206. Around 1957, the family decided to move the store a few doors down into a space twice as large. By this time, they had moved their residence to Queens, where the current owner, David Lee, was raised with his three older siblings. A third generation owner, David took Jim Lee's over from his father, Eugene Lee. When I spoke to David in July of 2015, he told me, "This was supposed to be a temporary job for me, and now I have been at it for some twenty-five years. " He is certainly not complaining, however. "It has served its purpose, " he went on, "I raised a family and now my kids are lawyers. "In the laundry and cleaners' beginning years, East 67th street was frequented mainly by blue-collar workers - people who had immigrated from Ireland, Italy and Germany. But, with the rise of the luxurious Manhattan House on East 66th Street in the 1950s, the neighborhood took on an entirely different clientele, as well as a boost to property values. Jim Lee's has cleaned the clothes of police and fire commissioners, politicians, and a "bunch of characters" over the years. "Whatever it is that we are doing, " David explained, "I know for certain we have had a lot of satisfied customers. " As I walk the side streets of Manhattan, stories such as this one never cease to amaze me. Sadly, they are becoming rarer as businesses are being forced to vacate their homes after so many decades due to rising rents and demolitions of their buildings. Still, reminding me of a favorite children's book, "The Little Engine That Could, this little side street business continues to puff along, repeating quietly, "I think I can, I think I can. "
Sweet aromas lure one into this tiny coffee and tea shop on west 70th. Originally founded in 1976 across the street, the Sensuous Bean moved to its current location in 1990 and is now co-owned by partners in life and in business, Lucretia La Mora and Tom Wilson. "People follow their noses, " explained Tom of the cafe's success. And even horses cannot resist - he recalled one peeking its head through the door as an officer grabbed a cup. "We blend to taste, " Tom added. Each day, beans are grinded on site and brewed in three roasters for a hot cup. And although small, the place is stocked with a large selection of coffees and teas sourced from a variety of regions. The chai spice tea comes from India and the Mexican Vienna brew from Zimbabwe. The assortment of flavorful tisanes includes intriguing names like red velvet cupcake or bella coola lemon lime.
Amber Upper West relocated from Columbus Avenue to this dimly lit, intimate side street enclave in 2015. A wood-beamed ceiling and whitewashed walls are organically accented with well-illuminated hanging plants and a graphic, black and white tree painting. With a menu featuring a large selection of rolls, grilled dishes and sushi to be shared in either the conventional dining space or well-stocked bar, this side street gem offers more than just lovely decor.
When Henry Clay Frick passed away in 1919, he had placed in his will that his residence be turned into a museum forever open to public access, featuring the impressive collection he had assembled over a span of forty years. In addition, his will provided a fifteen million dollar endowment for maintenance. In 1935, the Frick Collection was opened in the expanded Gilded Age mansion originally designed by Thomas Hastings for residence, and initially transformed into the museum by John Russel Pope. The interior features spectacular selections of Old Master paintings and European sculptures in sixteen permanent collections that integrate Italian, French and Spanish works, allowing cohesive interactions from multiple regions and time periods - the way Henry enjoyed viewing art. In the center, the Garden Court, which had been Henry's driveway, is considered the museum's heart, ornamented by rushing water, a bounty of plant life, impressive sculptures, and an intriguing skylight. Today, it is the only room in which one is permitted to take photographs. I remember visiting the Frick for the first time as a teenager and declaring it my favorite museum in Manhattan. I can easily state that it remains so to this day. I never tire of introducing visitors from out of town to The Frick and I continue to appreciate each new exhibit. For me, it remains a tranquil setting to walk, contemplate and unwind as I am surrounded by art and beauty.
Established in 1904, The Explorers Club is centered on scientific discovery in all realms - land, sea, air and space. Its original headquarters were located at the Studio Building on West 67th Street, and it moved to this location in 1965. In 1918, a signature flag was introduced, capitalizing on historic routes and unabated curiosity. Since then, the flag has been proudly carried on hundreds of expeditions as members of the club were the first to make it to the North and South Poles, the summit of Mt. Everest, the deepest point in the ocean, and the surface of the moon. The club first allowed women in 1981. To this day, it is a meeting spot for all kinds of explorers, scientists and students.