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 Third Avenue and Lexington Avenue

Just another block mostly tallish buildings from mid-20th century.

Here's an IRT power station, located at 152-54 East 57th, dating from 1917.

Crush Wine Company, at 153 East 57th is a Myriad Restaurant Group (Drew Nieporent et al) venture. The store is beautifully designed. Unusual featured wines are displayed as if they are floating. There's also a tasting room that looks like a hugh barrel. (It looks better than it sounds.)

Next door is "Gotta Have It," an autograph store that always seems to have a letter you want to read right in the window.

Take a look at the nice spandrels on the brick building nearby. The block is not completely without archtiectural interest.

Hammacher-Schlemmer, the store with the attractive bronze signband, is at 145-157 East 57th. It's impossible to predict what there will be in the window, but it's safe to assume that for every 1000 or more people who find the goods to be ridiculously over the top, there's at least one who must have it at any cost. The place has been in business a long time.

Across the street, at 140 East 57th, is the new Juan Valdez cafe, serving, naturally, Columbian coffee. It's not the first time Columbian coffee has been a feature of the neighborhood. During the late 50s and early 60s, this neighborhood, specifically, the blocks near Third Avenue between 57th Street and 60th Street, became the center for first-run movies, Hollywood and foreign. Columbian coffee was introduced to New Yorkers at coffee bars in these theaters. The first was at either the Baronet and Coronet (destroyed, now an Urban Outfitters) or at Cinema I and Cinema II. The latter theater now with a third screen added, has been sadly stripped, not only of its Columbian coffee bar, but of its first-rate decor, which included copper-finished artichoke-lamp chandeliers (new at the time, long before they became a cliche) and an Ilya Bolotowsky mural on the interior as well as its facade of blue Venetian glass. The owners picked the theater clean to avoid designation as a landmark. But I digress, (gnashing my teeth.)

An Italian restaurant, Teodora, much praised by Jonathn Reynolds in the New York Times magazine, is at 141 East 57th. Reynolds felt that this is as authentic a Bolognese restaurant as exists in NYC.

We are now approaching the most interesting blocks.


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