One part travel blog. One part nerdy history lesson.

Day 3- Chelsea, Flatiron, Central Park South, Columbus Circle

Today started out with a quick subway ride to Chelsea to have breakfast at the Starbucks Reserve Roastery. There are only 5 or 6 of these around the world. This one is a 3 story collection of seating and bars offering booze and coffee, pastries, fancy sandwiches, tasting flights of various coffees. All in a fancy schmancy setting of walnut furniture, fireplaces and copper. Designed to celebrate their coffee and their process.

The Cold Brew Bar. I could use one of these installed at my house. ha

Honestly, it was good food, but we were both underwhelmed at the coffee. Maybe we aren’t fancy enough haha. My cold brew- the whiskey-aged- tasted like a shot of whiskey…legit. I had to just drink it fast. ha The prometheus blend was watered down so much it didn’t have much flavor…and the nitro cold brew which is normally served cold when I order it at a regular Starbucks was lukewarm. Kegan said his espresso was so bitter, he didn’t enjoy it and he orders straight espresso from Starbucks constantly. Off day? perhaps.. or perhaps thats the true profile their coffees should have and we just don’t understand. ha either way, decent experience, not a necessity ever again.

I love these old buildings with the above street bridges connecting them. Such a cool throwback and I’m sure was such a posh addition for residents or workers here especially in the winter when there is snow on the ground.
This is an old elevated rail line that has been converted into a walking elevated park called the High Line. We’ll be walking along it in just a bit.

We headed over to the Hudson to see the newest park in Manhattan, Little Island. Public space built out over an old Pier no longer in use. Has a very distinctive look from land or the water.

Norah added her name to a wall of names as part of an art project designed to help people feel more connected and together as part of a post-Covid re-opening.

Walking along the High Line. It was such a peaceful little walk. Would be very cool if you lived near here and your daily commute or travel took you up and down this path.
They left the original train tracks in place which gives the park a very overgrown reclaimed feel to it as you are walking. Almost like you’re in a space you shouldn’t be allowed in.
Norah played with a couple kids on this playground for a bit. She’ll say she’s exhausted and then beg to go play on every playground we see. I don’t think she understands how you get tired.

We had tickets to the Museum of Illusions that I knew Norah would love because she watches a bunch of YouTube videos with these sort of optical illusions all the time.

Following this museum we walked towards the famous Dominique Ansel bakery. Famous for inventing the Cronut. I’ve had his baking cookbook for quite a few years now and he gives his recipes for Madelines, cronuts, cannelles, etc but I always wanted to actually get something from his bakery. Turns out still, to get a cronut, you have to order them two weeks in advance. So I did…. Just plain cronuts. 6 of them- the smallest order I could make.

There was some confusion, they couldn’t find my order (even though I had my order receipt and # -but they don’t go by order number. Ha it was a bit of a mess) but they handed me 6 cronuts and I left. But they weren’t what I ordered. Ha turns out we got 6 salted caramel cronuts that were filled with a crème and iced with a caramel fudge. And they were cold. And they had definitely been in a fridge since yesterday. So I think they lost my order and I got whatever was set aside for mess ups such as this. Ha and they weren’t that good. But a flakey layered cronut needs to be eaten within hours of baking. That’s why we had a one hour pickup window.

Sadly. Kegan and I agreed that ol’ Dominique may have gotten a little big for his britches. Ha but oh well. Sometimes when you’ve been wanting something for years, it will likely never live up to the hype… but this was especially disappointing because everything about it was objectively not right. Ha

Walking along the area we ended up walking around New York University-NYU campus.

There was a science related home decor store that I wanted to stop into called The Evolution Store. They had some very interesting insect and animal specimens for purchase as well as fossils and gems.

Our walk took us along to an unassuming building that you would never know the history of without seeing it labeled on Google Maps or specifically seeking it out. This was the former location of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory- and the famous Triangle Shirtwaist factory fire in 1911.

The shirtwaist fire was the deadliest industrial accident in the city. 146 garment workers, mainly young Jewish and Italian women newly immigrated to the US who burned to death inside the building or were killed when they jumped from the 8-10th floors of the building to the pavement below.

The workers were locked into the work areas to prevent the girls from taking unauthorized breaks and to prevent theft. When a fire started the doors were locked from the outside and no one could escape and the guy with the keys had left the premises. The owners of course were not locked in and they escaped to the roof when the fire started and left all of their workers inside to die.

Sidebar- I’m no fan of labor unions these days… but it’s because of things like this that they exist at all. Large organizations with all the power will never do what’s right by workers without workers having some leverage. Usually that leverage is the ability to leave and go to the competition…but in early industrial days, there were so many immigrants coming in every day- you were lucky to find employment and there was someone else waiting to take your spot when you died at your machine. The girls in this factory were only making the equivalent of $300 a week in today’s money for six 12 hour days.

The owners were never convicted of any wrongdoing and went on to open another factory- where they were also fined multiple times for locking women in to that factory too. Doesn’t take a leap of the mind to figure out these men were evil and had zero regard for the women they employed.

One of the bystanders watching the girls jumping to the deaths was Frances Perkins. She would go on to organize worker’s rights and eventually 20 years later would be the Secretary of Labor under FDR, the first woman to serve in any president’s cabinet.

We proceeded to walk through Washington Square Park, a big open space around NYU and Greenwich Village area with a big fountain and a famous arch dedicated to George Washington.

This is the Hangman’s Elm on the Northwest corner of the park. It is supposedly the oldest tree in Manhattan.
Norah found another playground to explore. Earlier in the day, we discovered not every playground is accessible to everyone. We were eating our cronuts near a playground and when we went to let her in, we realized you had to apply for a keycard to access the playground and there were signs saying not to allow piggybacking in through the gates. It was a good lesson for Norah to learn that not everything in this world is for her and sometimes, we don’t get to do everything.

Just a street over from the park is the Washington Mews, an private gated cobblestone streets with adorable buildings on each side, which since the 1950s has housed offices for NYU. Before that, some artists lived here, and before they were houses, they were originally horse stables. A cute little street to walk down.

We hopped the subway to the Flatiron District to see the flatiron building and couple other sites before heading up towards Central Park but the building is currently under construction and has scaffolding all over the outside! A bit disappointing. I read that the entire building is empty through 2023 while they do an overhaul. I always pictured people living here and that single window on the skinny end was likely some posh living room or bedroom window…but turns out its all corporate office space. No residential at all. So, instead, it’s just a bunch corner office executives with the awesome offices.

Just on the other side of the intersection is Eataly. A fancy Italian market with hot food and sandwiches and gelato.

We grabbed some food and ate it on a park bench outside.

Right next to Eataly was a Lego store that Norah wanted to visit (it is her vacation, too ha) so we went exploring. I made some notes for Christmas, it wasn’t totally lost time.

After that, we hopped on the subway again and headed North to Central Park…completely forgetting I had art museum tickets to ARTECHOUSE and planned to tour through Chelsea Market that we were supposed to hit before leaving the area. Whoops. North we went.

When we exited the subway there was this huge black building. I thought it was cool. Turns out its Trump International Hotel. ha I knew it looked familiar! and it also explained why there were 30 cops surrounding a crazy guy who had just spit on some lady’s face who was just walking down the street. We were like “why are there so many police officers around to begin with??” turns out it’s because this building invites a lot of controversy and likely a lot of threats and security needed.

Here at the entrance to Central Park at the Merchant’s gate entrance (a name given in the 1860s to show appreciation for the role commerce in the city’s economy) stands a monument dedicated to the 258 American soldiers that died aboard the USS Maine.

The USS Maine exploded while docked in Havana, Cuba which was under Spanish Rule at the time. The ship had been sent there is protect US citizens due to Cuba revolutionaries and anti-Spanish violence that had been occurring. We of course wanted Spain out of the Americas since they controlled Puerto Rica, Cuba, Guam and others….and this explosion- which is still debated about what or who actually caused it- was the battle cry that finally got Americans ready to go to war. “Remember the Maine!” became the catchy phrase that would lead the way.

We backed Cuba’s right to independence and signed a declaration that authorized our president to use force if necessary to secure that freedom. Spain declared war on us. But then we declared war on them the next day! and made it retroactive 4 days prior! HA! sure showed them… ha

But Spain wasn’t prepared to fight a major war across the ocean against a foe like the US. It didn’t take long for the US to capture the Philippines. Then to free Cuba from Spanish control- with the help of a young secretary of the Navy Teddy Roosevelt and his volunteer group of cavalrymen called “the Rough Riders”. After that, the Spanish signed the Treaty of Paris- freeing Cuba, signing over Puerto Rico and Guam to the United States and selling the Philippines to the US for 20 million dollars.

The irony in this, is that the Philippine rebelled against their NEW oppressors and the US lost 10 times the number of men in 3 years putting down Philippine rebellion than they did fighting Spain.

Anyway, after the USS Maine explosion occurred- William Randolph Hearst decided there should be a monument to the tragedy and raised funds by running ads in his newspapers, collecting donations small and large until they could build this monument.

We ventured on into the southwest corner of Central Park

The beauty of New York City and why they are able to build such monumental skyscrapers here is that the island is basically solid rock. the bedrock is just under the soil and in some places, like in central park- its actually above the soil. People were relaxing on the rocks, hanging out. So naturally, Norah wanted to as well.

After wandering in Central Park for a bit (don’t worry, we’ll see more later) we had a Norah event planned at Columbus Circle. On Columbus Day… haha I had no plans of that, just a coincidence.

The Shoppes at Columbus Circle is a very nice retail plaza that is a part of the Time Warner complex- the most expensive piece of real estate in all of Manhattan.

They even have Botero sculptures in the main atrium.

We were headed for a store called CAMP. One floor was retail games, toys, books and a few fun items to play with… but the 2nd floor was a kid art studio- including a paint splatter room, spin, art, painting ceramics, making slime and other fun hands-on items.

We were very early, so we went downstairs and explored- they have an old truck the kids can climb inside and play with.

They had a sequin room that I wanted to go play in. ha

After this, I had plans to go back up the edge of Central Park and see a few famous Upper West Side buildings like the Dakota building where John Lennon lived, then go across into Central Park and see the Strawberry Fields John Lennon memorial…. but Norah was done. Like, she kept it together in the mall, but no way was I going to get her to walk more and spend another couple hours out. I know that kid’s limits. ha So… back towards midtown on the subway we went, grabbing carryout sushi from a shop called Wasabi on our way.

Tomorrow we’ll spend most of our day at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and see Wicked on Broadway.

1 Comment

  1. Patricia L Woodward

    I can see y’all are having a great time. Erin if I ever get the bug to search out bigger cities I want you to go with me. You know all the good stuff!! I love the history lessons. Enjoy.

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