A Roman Catholic parish dedicated in May of 1918, the Church of St. Vincent is considered to be one of the most spectacular architectural buildings in Manhattan. In 1867, the first Cardinal in America, John McCloskey, requested that the Dominican Fathers and Brothers find a home in Manhattan. Mass was held in a small building on East 66th Street in that same year. A few months later, work began on the Gothic church that was completed in 1879. In 1914, however, it was decided to construct a new building, which stands here today. Above the main entrance is a magnificent carving of a crucifixion scene by Lee O. Lawrie. Guastivino acoustic tiling allows the preacher’s voice to project, and each glass window was placed opposite one of complementary colors so as to be highlighted fully in the sunlight. In August of 2015, the Parish of St. Vincent Ferrer and St. Catherine of Siena was established, forming a connection between this church and the Church of St. Catherine of Siena on East 68th Street.
As we walked into Christ Church, one of the members of the Sideways team commented, "Sometimes it's good to feel small, and that's exactly how I feel right now." The United Methodist congregation has called Park Avenue home since 1929. In shades of gold and deep blues, the stunning metallic, mosaicked ceiling supported by towering marble columns glistened over our heads. The tiled patterns, however, were not completed until 1949, due to World War II. High on the walls, larger-than-life icons stared down upon us as we sat in the rows of traditional wooden pews for prayer and meditation. Despite the sheer size of the sanctuary, we did not feel intimidated or unwelcome; rather, a sense of peace and calm came over each of us, making this the perfect haven for rest in the midst of the bustling streets of the Upper East Side.
The congregation that would become Central Presbyterian Church was first founded in the private abode of William Patton in 1821. The current building originally housed a Baptist Church that now makes its home at Riverside Church, the impressive spiritual behemoth in Morningside Heights. In 1926, it was purchased by members of Central Presbyterian, and has since been fostering a strong faith-driven community, with just a small hiccup of decline in the late twentieth century.
The history of Saint-Esprit dates back to the 1600s when French Huguenots fled persecution in France and sought religious tolerance in New York. This makes it the second oldest French Huguenot church in North America. The church moved several times due to a variable following and property value changes. There were even periods of time when worship ceased altogether. In 1941, however, Saint-Esprit finally settled at 109 East 60th Street, expanding next door three years later. When I visited the small chapel one afternoon, a staff member enthusiastically pointed out various historical relics to me, telling the stories of the crests that lined the walls and the works donated by French artists. Though weekly services are entirely in French, I was still warmly invited to attend and experience the heritage of the French Huguenots for myself.
Walking into Java Girl feels like coming home. In addition to the cafe being host to a friendly assortment of mismatched cushions, a cuckoo clock, an antique mirror, and other objects of curiosity, this was my go-to shop when I lived on East 67th Street. My friends and family members knew that I did not own a coffee pot and therefore we always had to stop by this neighborhood favorite. I was thrilled to be revisiting an old haunt, and on this particular day, I chose a seat in the window nook, settling in for a chat with Java Girl herself.In the mid-nineties, Linda Rizutto was working for a major retailer, wondering what it was that she wanted to do next. She would sit in a coffee shop with her journal and contemplate her options. "And then the opportunity came," Linda told me. In 1998, the west half of Java Girl became available for rent. Linda decided to take her own journey as inspiration, and create a coffee shop that would give other people the space and time to think about their lives. In 2001, Linda expanded into the second half of the cafe. "It created what I was dreaming of, and that was a place to let people come and decompress, whether it's for twenty minutes or two hours."Linda truly is the "Java Girl." She has crafted an amazingly diverse selection of coffee offerings, each 100% Arabica and hand-picked, from the volcanic soil of Mount Kilimanjaro to the fertile Costa Rican rainforest. Java Girl's exotic beans are all roasted locally by third generation roasters in Long Island City and the flavored coffees are done so by hand without any chemical processing.Not only does Linda know coffee, she also has a well-curated and enticing selection of gourmet loose-leaf teas, some of which are blended in-house. In the mornings, her oatmeal smoothie is a popular choice and hearty kickstart to the day.Over the years, Linda's customers have become regulars, allowing her to develop strong relationships with many of them. On the day that I stopped by, Linda had purchased flowers for someone who had recently lost a family member. "We've also celebrated marriages and babies," Linda proudly shared. Clearly more than just a coffee shop - Java Girl is a community. And a community is really what Linda set out to create. "I didn't have a business plan, I just had this idea... and it worked."
Lovely classical music plays in the background of The Juilliard Store, home to official apparel, recordings, and books on all things drama, dance, and music. A children’s section is dedicated to recognizing the potential of young artists with baby bibs reading “little soprano” or “little tenor.” The fun and whimsy continues with bags of music note-shaped pasta surrounded by an array of notebooks and coffee mugs. However, the gift shop is most recognized as being one of largest brick and mortar sheet music stores in the world. It is frequented by tourists, music-appreciators, and, of course, students of the Juilliard School.
In 1895, Slovakian immigrants originally founded the St. John Church on East 4th Street to be both a community center and a place of worship. However, as its congregation continued to grow and move uptown, it made sense for the Roman Catholic church to do the same. Since 1925, the Church of St. John Nepomucene has taken residence on 66th Street.