Ivivva is a secret find for little Lululemon lovers. The shop, which has limited hours, carries workout clothes for kids wearing size six to fourteen. The name of the company is a made-up word meant to represent the “strength and beautiful individuality in all girls.” Although meant for children, those of us who need petite sizes can certainly fit into some of their clothing. Needless to say, this was a wonderful find for me as well as many of the neighborhood women, who frequently take advantage of the sizes, the largest of which correspond to 2 and 4 at Lululemon.
The 83rd Street store, which opened in 2012, is a treasure trove of pastel colors and stretchy materials. Bright teal and pink curtains form changing rooms and each piece of clothing is labeled with fun, active names like “Tumblin’ Tank” and “Live to Move Crop.” The clothes are primarily made using “Luon,” a lycra-nylon blend that has become a Lululemon trademark.
I found it very clever that Ivivva offers Yoga birthday parties to its young customers. Caroline, one of Ivivva’s employees, also said that like the Lululemon locations throughout the city, Ivivva offers free yoga to the community every Sunday morning. She also mentioned that her shop hosts events in the area – in fact, she was in the middle of planning the Spring Break calendar for 2016 when I walked in.
Some of the more regular events that Caroline is most proud are the “Fit Sessions,” which allow Ivivva to collect feedback from its customers. Girls spend thirty to forty minutes trying on outfits and evaluating them using the 5 “F”s – Fit, Feel, Function, Fabric, and Fun. Each girl evaluates whether or not she would wear an outfit and if it is appropriate for her sport of choice. She then participates in a photo shoot that is shared on social media. These Fit Sessions can really brighten a girl’s day: for example, one little girl came into the store shortly after being rejected for a part in a school performance. She appeared devastated, Caroline told me, so she set up an impromptu Fit Session to put a smile on the child's face and boost her confidence.
Working in the Ivivva showroom allows Caroline and her co-workers to be involved in the community. She often goes to sports games and performances in order to cheer on young customers. “Girls are so malleable at this age,” she said, adding that it is an honor to be there for them as they are growing up. Aaron, another employee, nodded, confirming that it is the “community aspect” that really makes Ivivva stand out in the neighborhood.
Aaron, who usually works at the Union Square location - the only other one in the city as of 2016 - showed me a large vision board in the corner, where girls write their goals and dreams for the next year. The board is based on the ones that each Lululemon employee is asked to make when they picture their lives ten years after being hired by the company. They create “By When” deadlines for when they want to accomplish their goals. When translating the idea to their clientele, Ivivva adapted the vision board to focus on months rather than years. Aaron and Caroline shared that the board sees a variety of goals and dreams, since the little girls are interested in so many different sports and hobbies. Though many of them are dancers and gymnasts, girls have come in for clothing to wear for everything from skiing to jiu-jitsu. As Caroline pointed out, Ivivva is considered an “All Sport Company.”
All parents throughout New York, locals and tourists alike, should know about the educational and transformative experience of the Children's Museum of Manhattan. The 83rd Street institution, although it opened in 1973, has been at its current location since 1989. It is an extraordinary (not to mention really fun! ) resource for both kids and adults. I happened to visit during the week that constitutes winter break for New York schools, and so I witnessed an incredible amount of excitement and enthusiasm on each of the floors. Children as young as a few weeks old were in their mother's arms or being pushed in a stroller while their siblings were running around, checking out the interactive exhibits. Almost every aspect of the museum had something to push, touch, or listen to, giving children a tactile way of learning and remembering. I received an eye-opening tour from David Rios, the Director of Public Programs, who guided me from the fifth floor back to ground level. An exhibit called Playworks, designed for early learning, is located upstairs. For more than ten years, the museum's team worked side by side with child development experts to create a space where little ones can enhance their motor skills and problem-solving abilities. I enjoyed standing on the sidelines and observing children climbing in and out of a large wooden FDNY truck, a NYC bus, and a deli with plastic foods. As David explained, "Some museums have a supermarket, but we're in New York, so we have a deli. "I was amazed by how often the museum catered to varying age levels within the same space. For example, in the Movers and Shakers section, older children could learn math and physics by building mini roller coasters while younger siblings could crawl through tunnels and slide down slides. I was delighted to see parents participating with their children: this is definitely a museum where entire families can enjoy themselves, and children's learning is enhanced by parental guidance. Though there are plenty of buttons that encourage children to learn on their own, there is also signage so that parents can provide a further explanation to their kids. The museum is designed so that parents and older children do not feel intimidated or shy about trying out the different exhibits. As David stated so nicely, "This is a fun, non-judgmental environment for all ages to learn. "Continuing on, I entered The Lab, where children can read stories, sing songs, and learn more about art and science. All of the writing and sound bites are bilingual, since Spanish-speaking families make up such a significant portion of New York City's population. David told me that The Lab sometimes holds special events, such as a visit from members of Alvin Ailey, who danced with the children in an effort to teach them about movement. The next room took Peek-a-Boo to a whole new level with a digital version of the game and in the following room, I had to laugh out loud as I explored the digestive system, complete with a talking toilet. The grand finale of the tour was the America to Zanzibar: Muslim Cultures Near and Far special exhibit that is running from February 2016 - February 2017. The visually compelling exhibit is a multimedia exploration of the diversity of Muslim cultures within the United States and abroad. It is a collaboration between the museum's staff and members of the Muslim community and is an ingenious way of introducing children to topical cultural differences in an age-appropriate way. For example, there is a section where kids can press buttons to smell a variety of fruits and spices, as well as a collection of "Objects and Stories from American Muslim Homes. " Some other highlights included a life-size camel, musical instruments, and a virtual reality room that allows visitors to explore the architectural styles of different mosques. I was pleased to find out Mayor Bill de Blasio supports the exhibit. He has stated, "With America to Zanzibar, children will have the chance to learn about Muslim cultures in an engaging and thoughtful way. We only grow stronger when we embrace and celebrate the multitude of cultural backgrounds that make up New York. "
The Metropolitan Republican’s Club began its life in 1902 as the Republican Club of the 29th District. It originally met on Madison Avenue before moving to the Croyden Hotel in 1929. The current clubhouse was built in 1930. Past and present members include Theodore Roosevelt, Richard Nixon, Michael R. Bloomberg, and Rudolph Giuliani.
Taka Tokuyama came to the US from Tokyo in 2004. He began his career in New York working not only in salons, but also as a hair stylist for fashion shows and some leading magazines. In 2011, he decided that it was time to launch his own brand. The first business that he opened was on 83rd Street. He immediately drew customers from the neighborhood, and he is proud to say that many of the celebrities he worked with over the years also frequent the salon. In 2013, he opened another space in the East Village, followed more recently in 2016, with one in Tribeca. Each week, Taka divides his time as evenly as possible, accommodating his clients at all three of his salons.
When I knocked on the door to Engine Company 74, two firemen sprinted to the door and opened it with big grins on their faces. It was quite a welcome, and another example of how New York's firemen are consistently friendly and kind. The disposition of the two men clashed with the ominous dinosaur skull that marks their doors, but I soon learned the reason for the design: the doors to the firehouse used to be painted black, and so other firemen would often accidentally miss the building while looking for it, earning the company the nickname "The Lost World. " It also helps that the Museum of Natural History, home to a vast collection of dinosaur bones, is a few blocks away. The company started on 77th Street, with Hook and Ladder 25. Engine Company 56 occupied the 83rd Street building, which had been donated to the FDNY by Harry M. Archer, doctor and Deputy Chief of the fire department. His donation, however, came with a special stipulation: the building had to always house a fire truck, or else the property would revert back to his family. Engine Company 56 was disbanded in 1960 and replaced, in the same firehouse, with Squad Company 6. According to James Riordan, a former member of Squad Company 6, their initial apparatus was a hose wagon, then a van, and eventually a pumper before they, too, were disbanded in 1972. The Squad 6 firefighters were assigned to the then newly formed Ladder 59 in the Bronx, and Engine 74 moved in. In addition to its interesting origin story, Engine Company 74 has another element that makes it stand out from other companies: A Dalmatian. We met Yogi, the twelve year old dog who is the firehouse's mascot. He has also become a neighborhood icon, to the extent that when Yogi got sick, the community raised $7, 000 for his medical bills. I learned that Dalmatians are associated with fire departments because back when there were horses and buggies, rather than fire trucks, Dalmatians were discovered to be the best at keeping the horses on course. Sadly, not many firehouses still have Dalmatians, which is all the more reason why Engine Company 74 shows Yogi so much love. They raised him from a pup, and the fireman admitted that the canine has spent more time in the house on 83rd Street than any of men. As I said my goodbyes to the firemen, I mentioned that firemen were consistently the friendliest, most optimistic people on the side streets. One of the firemen nodded, "Of course – it's the best job in the world. You get to help people. "