Walking under the enormous golden button into Tender Buttons, named for the Gertrude Stein book, is like crossing the threshold into a museum or antique store. Buttons, which I often think of as simple clothes fasteners, are highlighted as masterpieces in this little shop. Set up like a long gallery, buttons of every shape and size line the walls, with display tables down the middle and a register at the end. Each button is fascinating, and it is easy to understand how Millicent Safro and her late partner Diana Epstein accidentally found themselves in a world filled with miniature discs.
In the 1960s, the two women bought a large collection of buttons because they were drawn to their appearance and history. Though Diana was a writer and an editor, and Millicent was an antiques restorer, they started a business based on their passion for the small fasteners. The space on 62nd Street that was originally meant to simply house the buttons became a storefront in 1964. The change happened slowly as the women started holding special "salons" for friends to come by and examine their hoard. As word spread, however, dedicated customers began arriving. Since then, they have been selling buttons to a range of clientele. In addition to numerous collectors and designers passing through their doors, I was told that Julia Roberts, Catherine Deneuve, and Sidney Poitier have been customers. Tender Buttons is also a go to shop for costumes in films and Broadway shows, including Batman and the Muppet movies.
The buttons span the decades and centuries. Millicent is particularly fond of eighteenth century silver buttons, with their delicately painted dogs and horses. There are intricately carved antique buttons and humorous, quirky ones. Over the years, the two women traveled all over the world to find their buttons: to Cairo for black-glass buttons, to Austria for paper buttons from World War II, and to London for buttons made from window glass. At one point during their travels, they were invited to see a cache of buttons from Albert Parent & Cie, France's oldest button factory, and ended up purchasing the entire collection. Along with rare and antique buttons, the shop also sells buttons for customers to select for everyday wear. There are even buttons in fun shapes and colors for children, so that kids and adults alike can choose to demonstrate their individuality through the smaller details of their clothing.
The world of buttons is clearly vast, and far more complicated than the modern factory-produced plastic discs on our clothing would have us believe. The carefully curated collection at Tender Buttons is a perfect introduction to this complex realm.
The Society of Illustrators leaves anyone who enters with a yearning to create. At its core, the Society seeks to “promote the art of illustration through education and exhibitions, ” as described by Executive Director Anelle Miller. This mission takes many forms. Visitors can attend a regular Sketch Night, where novice and advanced artists alike can gather to draw nude and costumed models or still-life pieces. As the only illustration society in the world that also houses a museum in its space, those seeking inspiration may meander through the Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art, peruse the illustrated exhibits on display, and watch video shorts in the screening room as they wait for the muse to strike. Under Anelle’s tenure, the Society has reached out beyond its doors to offer art programs for underserved and incarcerated youth and a wealth of online work-shops and lecture series. “We embrace everyone, and that’s what art is supposed to do. ”Even those who have not personally visited the Society may be familiar with its reputation for hosting four of the biggest illustration competitions in the world, including the Illustrators Annual, a student scholarship competition, and a children’s book illustration competition — which Anelle referred to as the “Academy Awards for children’s illustrators. ”In 2014, one of the best children’s books selected, Papa Is A Poet, was written by Manhattan Sideways founder Betsy Bober Polivy's mother, Natalie S. Bober, and illustrated by Rebecca Gibbon.
It is a thrill to be able to be writing about the Argosy Bookstore. As a former owner of a children's book shop, I could not wait to get to 59th Street so that I could delve deeply into this family history, which began in 1925, and share the story of the three extraordinary sisters that have carried on their father's legacy. Despite being on 59th Street since the 1930s, the bookstore remains a 'hidden gem' to many New Yorkers who will regularly walk by and miss its presence amidst the ever-growing retail buildings. Naomi, one of the sisters, who maintains her post at a desk by the door, says, "About fifteen times a day, I have someone walk in the store, stop in their tracks and say, 'Oh my goodness, I never knew that this existed. '" And what a wonderful discovery this six-story curiosity is. Argosy feels as much like a museum as it does a bookstore. With its specialty being rare and out-of-print books, along with a score of historic maps, prints and autographs, it is a treasure trove with a vast selection that has something for everyone. It brought me great pleasure to introduce members of the Manhattan Sideways team to this remarkable shop that I had been scouring for decades. From the moment we walked through their doors, and they commented at the "book smell" that invaded their senses, I knew that I had them hooked. But then their eyes wandered across the shelves of books that dominated the room, catching the paintings hung above them and the green library lamps suspended at every interval, they simply stood in amazement. And then Naomi greeted us and took us on what would become a remarkable tour of the entire building. We began on the main level, where some of the store's most beautiful books are showcased, in genres from historical fiction to children's books. We were amused as Naomi pointed out her special shelves appropriately named "the oh-I-should-have-read-this" - a sort of "un-Barnes and Noble section" that does not necessarily include Hemingway or Faulkner, but certainly exhibits a great awareness and taste in fine literature. From there, we ventured down to the basement, a general browsing room, and then up to the sixth floor, which Naomi calls the 'oh my God room, ' as it is filled with autographs from Teddy Roosevelt to Elton John. As one of three sisters who inherited the bookstore from their father, Lou, Naomi explained that each of the siblings maintains an individual pride in a certain collection in the store. For Naomi, it is the autograph collection. As we continued down, we stopped on a floor dedicated to American History, where there was a fascinating collection of rare books on topics that included American Architecture, the Cold War, and the American Revolution. I was particularly attracted, however, to the map room. As I was wandering through, I discovered an actual first edition map of Manhattan - drawn sideways in 1865. Argosy Bookstore remains one of the largest, family-run independent bookstores in New York City. Despite impressive offers for its real estate, the store has continued its business through generations and maintains a genuine character matched by only a handful of other businesses in Manhattan.
Who would have thought that one could find a golf club so far from a green? One of the most elite golf clubs in the world, the Links is where die-hard golf players go to eat and socialize. Charles Blair Macdonald, a golf champion and founder of the United States Golf Association, started the Links in 1917 as a place where powerful members of the golf world could keep the true spirit of the game alive. The magnificent Georgian townhouse that is home to the club was built in 1890 and features four floors and a mansard roof. There is no sign: it is only recognizable by the flags waving outside.
No one knows if there is a key to the door of the Animal Medical Center. The veterinary hospital has never needed one: it has been running for twenty-four hours each day ever since it opened in 1962. The history of AMC, however, runs deeper; Ellin Prince Speyer, the founder of the Women’s Auxiliary to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, planted the seeds of the Center in 1909 when the Auxiliary established a clinic for animals whose owners were not financially able to go to existing veterinary hospitals. The Center was a success, thus allowing the organization to begin raising funds for a permanent animal care facility. This goal was seen to fruition in 1914 when a hospital opened on the Lower East Side. In 1960, construction began on the current grounds, which is now one of the few teaching veterinary hospitals in the world. Over one thousand veterinarians from around the globe have come through training at the AMC. Upon entering the eight-floor building and seeing the tiled animal mural decorating the elevators, I was met by the Center's enthusiastic public relations person, Barbara Ross. She was eager to give me a guided tour of the facilities. As she led me through the first hallway, I met Matt, sitting in his scrubs with one hand on his computer and the other holding a small dog. This was the perfect image to set the stage for my walk. The building mirrored a human hospital, but with a more relaxed atmosphere and animals of all shapes and sizes being attended to and comforted by staff members. It was a special moment for me when I stepped into Dr. Stephen Riback's dental office, where he agreed with my initial impression: "It's more like a people hospital than an animal hospital. " I was proud to watch this warm and gentle man, whom I have known my entire life, taking care of a dog that had just been through major dental surgery. Stephen explained that he had removed some teeth from the King Charles Spaniel who had periodontal disease - which causes the bone in the dog's gums to recede from the teeth. Stephen assured me that the dog would be much happier now, and that the other organs would be saved from the ailments that often follow from progressive periodontal symptoms. The dog's adorable little tongue was clamped in a permanent lolling position, and the woman assisting in the operation made sure that his open eyes were moistened while he was sedated. Stephen went on to tell me about some of the other dental operations he has handled: he has performed root canal procedures on police dogs that break their teeth during "bite" work, and he once utilized his dental expertise on a Bengal Tiger at the Bronx Zoo. As a rule, doctors from AMC do not work at the zoos, since both Central Park and the Bronx have their own medical team. Dentistry, however, is not taught at most veterinary schools, so Stephen is often called upon for his unique skills. After saying good-bye to Stephen, I stepped back into the hallway with Barbara, where she told me about a recent case of a dog who arrived on 62nd Street blind and left being able to see after the removal of its cataracts. Clearly medical miracles are performed at AMC. On the subject of blindness, Barbara mentioned that every guide dog is treated without charge. Though animals occasionally come in for general wellness visits, for the most part they are admitted for problems that regular vets cannot handle. As Barbara said, "The animals are primarily the sickest of the sick. "Continuing on, Barbara proudly pointed out the imposing CT scan and MRI machines, and commented that "some human hospitals do not own anything close to this level of equipment. " I was then shown a series of astonishing photographs of a young horse receiving a CAT scan. Following this, Barbara led me to a hybrid operating room for interventional endoscopy and radiology, which she said is the only one of its kind in the world. And, if I had not been impressed enough, I was then made aware of the hospital's underwater treadmill that aides animals with arthritis and hip dysplasia. When I looked at Barbara in amazement, she explained that staff members entice their patients with peanut butter, thereby encouraging them to swim forward to lick this treat. This allows them to participate in physical therapy. Brilliant! Barbara shared with me that there have often been times over the decades that human physicians have collaborated with veterinarians, including teaming up with Sloan Kettering where, together, they came up with the first canine vaccine for cancer. From what I witnessed, opening their medical center in the same vicinity as what is termed Hospital Row was the perfect decision back in the 1960s. And there is no doubt that these animals are treated with the same care and professional expertise as the human patients surrounding them.
The first fully certified “green” building in Lincoln Center, the atrium features lush vertical gardens with a spectacular fountain, where visitors and local residents are invited to sit and relax in a wide open space. Additionally, there are informative wall screens, a booth to purchase Lincoln Center discounted tickets, the ‘wichcraft eatery, and the starting point for guided tours of the Lincoln Center. The David Rubenstein Atrium, formerly known as the “Harmony Atrium, ” was created through a New York program that provides designated spaces for accessible public use. David Rubenstein, in whose honor the space is named, was the Vice Chairman of Lincoln Center, as well as a philanthropist and financier.
Established in 1958, the Fifth Avenue Synagogue has been home to many Jewish spiritual leaders both from New York and Israel. It was first formed as a place of worship where the values of Orthodox Judaism would take center stage while also catering to contemporary American lifestyles. The building was designed by Percival Goodman, who called himself "an agnostic who was converted by Hitler. " The synagogue is designed in the traditional Sephardic way, with a bimah and ark in a central area and separate sections for men and women.