Walks in New York and elsewhere

My comments on buildings, shops, restaurants that catch my eye as I wander around New York City and other places.

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Location: New York, New York, United States

Sunday, August 21, 2005

57th Street - River to River

When the city fathers created a street grid for Manhattan early in the 19th century, they had in mind ease of development and not aesthetics. Hence, an unintended, but welcome result is that Manhattan is hard to get lost except in certain areas that pre-dated the grid. Looking at a map, one would not think that it's a city for casual wandering or ramdom discovery. The grid looks boring. But, there are surprises, even as one walks the straight and narrow. Neighborhoods did not form along strict lines. One of the best ways to experience the variety is to choose a street, walk its length and observe the change in character. In Manhattan, the north-south streets are the Avenues, some of which have names like Park Avenue, or Broadway, while the east-west streets are usually numbered, although there are exceptions, like Houston and Canal Streets. For most of the borough, Fifth Avenue is the dividing line between east and west. One of my favorite streets is 57th Street. I am going to walk its length, with the camera in hand, beginning at the easternmost end, east of Sutton Place all the way to 12th Avenue and report on some of the things I see.

Opinions expressed are my own, but I have fact-checked for dates of construction and names of architects and occasionally on a building style. There is no one source in which data on all the buildings is located. The following sources have been useful: Websites: Office of Metropolitan History, NYC Department of Buildings, NYC Landmarks Commission, New York Times, NY Songlines and Emporis.

Books: AIA Guide to New York City, by Norval White and Elliot Willensky; New York City Landmarks, 3rd edition, text by Andrew Dolkart and Matthew Postal, New York 1880, New York 1900, New York 1930, New York 1960 (4 separate vols.) Robert A.M. Stern, et al.

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