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.
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.
The Grolier Club was established in 1884 by printing press manufacturer Robert Hoe and his eight bibliophile companions. They named their institution after the great Renaissance book collector, Jean Grolier, and adopted the mission to promote "the study, collecting, and appreciation of books and works on paper, their art, history, production, and commerce." To this day, the Grolier Club champions that cause and totals nearly 800 members. Though membership is by nomination only, anyone is permitted to apply for library privileges, visit exhibitions, and attend lectures. The Grolier Club Library holds over 100,000 works centered on the topics of books, authors, printing, typography, publishing, and book collecting. It also boasts 60,000 volumes of "bookseller and book auction catalogues."As the former owner of a children's bookstore, imagine my enthusiasm when I learned of the show that coincided with my walk across 60th Street. Perusing "One Hundred Books Famous in Children's Literature" was an absolute highlight in the middle of a brisk January day. I found it fascinating to discover which books the curators chose to be their top choices. Amongst the collection of literature, I stared at Lewis Carroll's personal notated copy of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and an original watercolor illustration from Madeline. I would have loved to have listened to the 45 record that they had displayed behind the glass, as it was Kate Thompson, herself, reading Eloise. Of course, the classics Pat the Bunny, Good Night Moon and the Little Engine That Could were on display, as well as a first edition publication of the modern favorite Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, as it is known in its country of origin.While speaking with Grolier's head of PR, she assured me that each of the exhibits that pass through the club are of this same fine quality and cover a wide range of subjects from Mao's infamous Red Book to collections of pop-up books. She encouraged me to visit the upstairs exhibit on the WWII French Occupation, Resistance, and Liberation. Naturally, I did.Ascending the steps lined with portraits of influential persons from the club's past, I found myself in the quaint, second floor gallery that houses a large selection of pieces from club members' private collections. At the end of the hall, in a warm salon with a rust orange velvet sofa and homey fireplace – the perfect reading nook for any bibliophile - I rounded the room to take in the WWII exhibit examining this turbulent period in world history.While most private clubs on the side streets of Manhattan do not allow non-members past the front door, Grolier's hospitality was completely unexpected and very much appreciated, and there is no doubt that I will return to honor the printed page.
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.
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.