Falling in Love Again with The City

horsecopI love that the NYPD, mounted on horses, patrols our block. Not that we’re so special…there just happens to be several elementary schools in our vicinity. It’s so much fun to see a horse going by just as you step outside the door.

On this day of the horse, we were on our way to “the city” (in case you’re wondering, I was born in Brooklyn, but moved to Long Island in the middle of kindergarten — a story in itself — as a result, like other Brooklynites and Long Islanders of yore, I’ve called Manhattan, “the city,” since, like, forever.

A sort of mini-mission I’ve undertaken after being back in N.Y. (at least, mentally, for now) is that I want to visit parts of the city that I’d either ignored and never seen, taken for granted, or simply forgotten about during all those years that I was living here before.

First on the agenda was The Museum of the City of New York. I’d heard about it, but never been. New York Magazine had recommended a photography exhibit they had on view.

Located on Fifth Ave. at 103rd St., we boarded the #7 train to Grand Central Station from Jackson Heights. At GC, we switched to the #6 local and got off at 103rd St. and Lexington Ave. We walked 3 blocks or so to Fifth Ave.

The MCNY is a stately mansion, fronted by White House columns, with winding marble staircases, mahogany ballustrades, and towering, sky-lighted ceilings. A beautiful, old building. We’d come to see an exhibit of photos titled: “The Preservation of Wilderness in New York City Parks.”

11668Above is a sample of Meyerwitz’s work, the photographer we wanted to see. The show was enjoyable from a native New Yorker’s standpoint. I recognized many of the landscapes, which, aside from their comfortable familiarity, induced in me tiny bouts of nostalgia for the days when there were more trees in the city, when N.Y. and Long Island were less developed.

But — the show itself disappointed in that I didn’t experience transcendence.

Another exhibition, however, called “The Edge of N.Y. – Waterfront Photographs” presented work by a husband and wife (Len Jenshel and Diane Cook) — both, photographers in their own right. That show was spectacular. Each haunting image, whether it was a monumental bridge, some pilings, or a scene picturing a desolate area of N.Y.C. transported me to an exalted place.

Leaving the museum, we headed north on Fifth, with the intention of crossing over to the westside at 110th St., which borders the northern edge of Central Park (also called Central Park North — who knew?).

It made me think of the 1972 blaxploitation film “Across 110th Street,” which featured an amalgam of NYC cops, the Mafia and Harlem crime bosses. It just so happened that I’d re-watched it on cable not long before moving to back New York, so it was fun to be “on location.”

Then, right inside the park, surprise of surprises, I saw a Knish stand. A N.Y. knish topped my list of foods that I missed and longed to eat.

KnishnoshCPNaturally, we ordered two-with-mustard (these knishes were baked and not deep fried, which, I suppose, is good…) and sat down at the table as soon as Mr. Typical New Yorker, above, kindly vacated. While knishnoshing, we gazed at the lovely tableau before us, another lake in Central Park!



Our appetite temporarily sated, we turned left on 110th St. and walked toward Broadway. Across the street on our right was a ten-story brick building with a large cage affixed to the roof. In my 2009 mindset, I thought: Oh, look. Condos with a tennis court on top. That’s nice.

But, then I saw the sign above the door: Lincoln House of Correction. A prison! Right in the middle of the city. During their one-hour R&R in the caged rooftop “yard,” the prisoners certainly have a pleasant view of the park.

We continued on down Broadway, which, as we reached 96th Street, become more populated with stores and less populated with sketchy characters.

One, sitting on a park bench, suddenly asked me for the time. My street smarts kicked in involuntarily, I’m relieved to report.

“Sorry, I don’t have a watch,” I told him, thinking wouldn’t he just love it if I dug into my purse and pulled something out. As if a twenty-something guy in an expensive sweat suit wasn’t carrying his own cell phone.

The Upper Westside was once a favorite neighborhood of mine (back when that most fantastic of bookstores, Shakespeare & Co., resided there). Now, it seems to have been taken over by too many Banana Republic-, Gap-, Target-type stores.

Too bad.

So, at 70-something street, we hopped on the downtown #1 train and rode to Hell’s Kitchen. It was about 2:30 p.m. and we were getting hungry. We stopped for lunch in a charming little Italian place called “Cara Mia” on Ninth Ave. at 45th St.

cara mia

I made a note to revisit it for dinner sometime, maybe pre-theater, if I get tickets to “Jersey Boys,” which I’m dying to see.

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