Watching over the fascinating conversation that I was engaged in with Emily Lansbury, chairwoman of the board and Laurie Sanderson, executive director, was a blue elephant statue, once Florenz Ziegfeld's personal mascot. Today, it guards this small office where a hidden piece of theatrical history lies. Located on the fifth floor of the Central Presbyterian Church - where the women who originally founded the Ziegfeld Club were members - are a few remnants of old show posters and photographs of Mr. Ziegfeld and his "girls."I learned from Emily and Laurie that the club was founded in 1936 by Billie Burke, the widow of Florenz Ziegfeld - and the actress who played Glinda the Good Witch in the Wizard of Oz. During a time when there was no social security or unions and there were no safety nets for many women in the theater world, the Ziegfeld Club was founded in an effort to raise awareness and finances for the dancers who became destitute. Yes, some of these women married well, usually to men in the business, but many suffered great hardships when they were no longer able to perform.Once upon a time, the Ziegfeld Club was a million dollar charity. Although they have managed to maintain its office inside the church all these years, Emily and Laurie have now taken on the task of deciding what should happen next. Together, they are firmly focused on the future, and are working hard to find a balance between honoring the group's past, and finding its place in the present day Broadway community.
The birth of the JNF began with a dream belonging to Zvi Hermann Schapira, a mathematics professor in Switzerland. He wanted a fund to be developed that could be used by the Jewish people in order to develop their own country. Theodor Herzl, a Viennese journalist, took Schapira's dream and ran with it. In 1901, the fund was created. Since that time, the JNF has planted countless trees, developed communities in need, and helped the Jewish people connect with the land of Israel.
An inviting gourmet deli for both to-go bites and sit-down fare, Cafe Fresco offers a salad bar, an omelet station, sandwich fixings, "legendary bagels," and many other options for all sorts of cravings. One of their featured dishes, the eggplant Milanese, is made with oven-roasted eggplants, pesto ricotta and fresh mozzarella. Open windows give each seat a full view of either First Avenue or St. Catherine's Park. When I stopped in with a fellow Sideways member on a brutally humid summer day, we watched the children swinging higher and higher outside at the park as we hid inside from the heat, refueled ourselves, and recharged our cell phones.
Tavern on the Green, a restaurant that opened in 1934, has not forgotten its origins as a home to the ewes and rams that grazed in Sheep Meadow. Images of sheep are everywhere - carved into the fireplace, decorating the menu, holding up the table in the lobby.In 2010, the building ceased to be a restaurant for a brief stint, serving instead as a visitor's center and gift shop. After being taken over by partners, Jim Caiola and David Salama, and a lengthy renovation, the Tavern made a culinary return with a rustic and seasonal menu. I have eaten here on a number of occasions since its debut in the spring of 2014, but strolling in and out of the various rooms with members of the Manhattan Sideways team was a whole different experience. None had ever been, and I was amused and pleased with their reactions to this iconic Central Park locale.The Tavern contains three main areas. In the front dining room, the vast space resembles a summer hunting lodge. A large, circular bar takes up the center with a rotating carousel of gilded horses above it, and mammoth roof beams run along the ceiling like an old mead hall. Separated from the outdoors by a large glass wall, the second dining area is far more modern with creams, ivories and a collection of glass chandeliers. And though it was a hot day, a few brave souls ate outside in the exterior dining space, under umbrellas and large, mid-century street-lamps.The other side of the building features a beer garden with its own menu of simple bar fare. Finally, for the thousands of people who jog, bike or are simply wandering in the park, there is now a delightful little take-away window called "Green-to-Go." It offers both a breakfast and lunch menu, and tables to sit down, relax and enjoy either a cup of coffee, a bowl of oatmeal, or a variety of wraps and salads in the afternoon. If nothing else, it is a terrific spot to watch both tourists and New Yorkers passing by.
Delle Celle features many respected brands of Italian-fabricated women's clothing, as well as its own line of garments. The pieces are full of color and pattern, with an abundance of styles - there are very few repeats. Walking in, one is greeted by a friendly salesperson, happy to answer any questions. Face-to-face shopping is a vital component of this business, void of an online site. And the integrity and authenticity of the pieces certainly warrants this tactile form of transaction.
"You are now in Bedford Falls," a sign read in this 67th Street bar, named after a location referenced in the classic movie, "It's a Wonderful Life." With a bounty of liquor, an arcade golf game, and sports on all the televisions, this bar is the ultimate man cave. A food menu is also offered, including the ever-popular Bedford burger and a nice brunch assortment for the weekend. When I ventured in on a Wednesday night, men in good spirits, many of whom were regulars, occupied the main bar. A more private room featured cushy leather for quieter comfort, and the backroom was complete with high-legged seating and a wooden-booth. Tables appeared to be repurposed beer boxes, and the place was otherwise furnished with whiskey barrels, brick walls, and light alternative music. And through an intriguing walkway, I found myself in the splendid beer garden.