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

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Between First and Second avenues

This is a block mostly of mid-rise buildings -- 15 to 18 stories high, still mostly residential, with some businesses on the ground floors. There is a very nice bas-relief door surround at 345 East 57th Street. (Schwartz & Gross, 1928). 322 East 57th Street is a 10-story building (originally 8 stories) stretched out to occupy the height of a 16 story building. It's one of several studio buildings on the street. These buildings have a distinctive appearance with double-height windows to allow light into the double-height rooms. This one was also built in 1928. Some time recently a very visible two-story rooftop addition was added. If this building had been a designated landmark, the Landmarks Commission might have permitted a rooftop addition, but would have insisted that it not be visible from the street.

Looking uptown at the crosswalks at Sutton Place, First Avenue or Second Avenue, you may see the Roosevelt Island tram, here approaching its docking terminal at Second Avenue between 59th and 60th streets. For several years after Roosevelt Island was developed as a residential neighborhood, the tram was the major means of pubic transportation. The island was also reachable by bus or car via a bridge that connects to Queens. After the subway began service, the tram became primarily a tourist attraction until it began accepting metro cards and transfers from the MTA system. It is worth a ride at dusk, to see the lights of the city spread out below as you silently cross above the west channel of the East River. If you do take the ride, look downtown and you'll be able to catch a glimpse of the hidden gardens of Sutton Place. There's nothing much to do once you reach your destination except go back, unless you've been invited to someone's home for dinner.

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