Walking New York

A fat lazy idiot tries to walk every street in Manhattan.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Even More Day 30 Photos - Bowery

There's nothing like a beautiful building covered in spray paint with boarded-up doors and windows. That's the Bowery I know and love and am afraid of.

The Bowery is a gold mine of old store signs, like walking through Forgetten New York, a great website that got me through many internship days last summer. One of my favorite things from them is this page on the KFC imitators around the city. One of the ripoffs, Kennedy Fried Chicken, got popular enough to warrant its own imitator, JFK Fried Chicken. And then even that was imitated by J.F. Kennedy Fried Chicken. There's also a Lincoln Fried Chicken, which may or may not be connected.

I've long talked of buying a slicer on eBay, but it hardly seems financially feasible, unless I started a sandwich shop out of my apartment. The sandwich shop idea is not that far fetched - I can make really good sandwiches, having eaten thousands in my lifetime, and I can buzz up whoever I want to the apartment, at any time. I think there might be a drug dealer living on my floor, because I saw something written in pencil on the garbage room door about it, but if there is, she's not doing a great in-house business, because it's quiet almost all the time. But anyway, my slicer dreams are probably still never going to happen, unless I just buy one for recreational use, which isn't realistic at this point either.

The Bowery Savings Bank

Dismembered Bowery bicycle (good name for a band - Bowery Bicycle at least)

CBGB on Bleecker and the Bowery, which will close next month for good. I'm sure there are more up to date and detailed sites covering the club's demise, but I'm too lazy to look for them. Check out the amazing list of bands who've played there on the same link, ranging from The Ramones and Lou Reed to Elvis Costello and They Might Be Giants.

Looking east on Houston from the Bowery, with that cool boarded-up park on the left (is that a giant Christmas tree?), and the travesty that is the Avalon Chrystie Place on the right. I say travesty because it's a fancy glass monstrosity amidst humble old brick apartment buildings. But it does have a 24-hour concierge and Olympic sized swimming pool. If I made a lot of money while I was still young and wanted a 1-bedroom in a neighborhood I liked, I'd probably look there, admittedly, just because I know it'd be nice. But my main goal is still to one day live in the giant brick towers on the southeast corner of Union Square. The building is perfectly located and seems amazing to me, despite its dorky name of Zeckendorf Towers. An NYT Real Estate listing has some photos of a 1-bedroom, which is going for only $875,000, plus around $1000 a month in combined maintenence and taxes. As crazy as it sounds, that's actually surprisingly low for a building on the park with a gym, pool, roof garden, courtyard, doorman, laundry, and garage. For now, I'll focus on not having to share a 1-bedroom in Brooklyn when my lease ends.

More Day 30 Photos - Really Chinatown

When most people think of Chinatown, even New Yorkers, they probably think of the area around Centre Street just east of Broadway and south of Canal. That's where the most well known restaurants and dim sum places are, but Chinatown continues to expand in all directions, and it actually runs east really far. It's taken over all of Little Italy except a couple blocks of Mulberry to the north, and the east side, especially the Chatham Square area, make the Centre Street Chinatown look like something out of Epcot. The Bowery area south of Canal is the Chinatownest part of Chinatown I've ever seen, but I suspect it gets even more Chinatowny east of there. Here's a map to help illustrate this:

I've actually been on Essex Street recently for some pickles and it's much more Lower East Side than Chinatown, but Wikipedia says Chinatown continues to at least East Broadway, and so I'll stand behind my map. Today I walked in Really Chinatown. You can tell because instead of Chinese places with signs including English words, American places include Chinese lettering:

The real Chinese places make no attempt to translate their names into English. Even the street signs are subtitled:

This was all around the Chatham Square area, at Mott and the Bowery (below). There will be a lot more about this area when I walk it again, and quite a few Streets You've Never Heard Of.

Along the way, I also spotted a cool Confucius statue, which thankfully had English writing:

The statue stands outside of Confucius Plaza, a 44 story housing project built in the 70s. More about it, and Chinatown in general, in this very interesting and probably mostly true Wikipedia article.

Day 30 Photos - Brooklyn and the Bridge

View down the street outside Empire Fulton Ferry Park (Maybe Brooklyn Bridge Park? Either way, the area on the water between the Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges).

The park has a pretty cool playground, with a big pirate ship type thing in the middle.

It also has really ridiculous modern art, like these two enormous severed feet (click for a better view).

On the way to the park from the subway, I walked down Washington Street, a very cool mix of old Brooklyn and the Manhattan Bridge.

A better look at the Manhattan Bridge

The park also has a makeshift beach, which is what these people are standing on. I've never seen anyone actually using it as a beach (it's the East River, come on), but it's a cool place to hang out.

This walkway under the Brooklyn Bridge seems to be where most of those late-night romantic walking movie scenes take place, although Roosevelt Island is also a possibility, and I've never seen the view from Jersey City.

Just north of the bridge is this walking pier with an extremely long seemingly-inspirational sentence etched into the railing. I was looking for MANHATTAN! to get in the foreground of the skyline, but I'll settle for cool inaccuracy.

Also on the pier is the Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory. Since I love places with official-sounding names, I go there whenever I'm in the area. Tried peaches and cream flavor this time. Real peaches. I recommend it.

The bridge viewed from the pier, with the River Cafe at the bottom

Lower Manhattan from the bridge

Has anyone ever walked on the Brooklyn Bridge and not taken this exact picture?

The skyline downtown from the end of the bridge in Manhattan

For more Brooklyn, go here.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Day 30: Brooklyn to the Bowery (5.5 miles)

It's been a while since the last long walk with photos, but I'm back. And since it was a nice day out, I decided to take the subway to Brooklyn, and to walk back over the Brooklyn Bridge. The bridge is not really a part of the project (you could argue that half of it should still count for Manhattan), but I love the area down there in Brooklyn and walking the bridge is always really great.

I tried to do it last month, but I walked from my apartment all the way down there, and was so exhausted by the time I got to the bridge entry in Manhattan, that I just turned around and went home. I didn't want to get stuck on there without water, or to end up in Brooklyn not knowing where the subway is. Also, that was one of those 100 degree days, and today was amazing, around 80 and not too humid. But just to be sure, I took the subway to High Street in Brooklyn and walked back, so I'd be the least tired in the Brooklyn stages of the walk.

I walked around Brooklyn between the Brooklyn and Manhattan bridges, then over the bridge, up the Bowery, and crossing back over west at 20th Street. Tons of interesting stuff along the way, as well as the standard nice skyline/bridge photos from Brooklyn. I usually take about 70 pictures and end up with 10 good ones to post. Today I took about 250 and have 36 to post. So be ready.

Former Manhattan home of famous Brooklyn roast beefery Roll-n-Roaster, now some stupid 3rd Avenue bar. I remember walking around there over two years ago when Roll-n-Roaster was first open, and they were giving away little roast beef sandwiches on the street. I'm usually wary of partaking in free street roast beef, but I tried it and it was pretty solid. I went there once in a while when I lived in the neighborhood last summer, and although I kind of prefer Arby's, I will still miss its presence, and it's $5 12 inch pizzas. The original is still alive in Sheepshead Bay.

More disastrous changes in the neighborhood, a couple blocks south on 3rd. This used to be a pretty awesome Hollywood Video, which looks like it fell victim to some kind of chainsaw attack:

The Hollywood Video was actually really nicely designed inside. It had a walk of fame, old movie wallpaper, and a generally interesting feel as opposed to the sanitary bus-depot-like Blockbusters around the city.

I especially liked the MVP deal, which cost $10 a month and allowed for unlimited rentals, 3 at a time. The only differences between that and Netflix is that they still had return dates and late fees, and you couldn't rent some of the newest, biggest releases. I didn't care about the new movies, because it encouraged me to rent older stuff, which is good. And the late fees weren't a problem because I lived literally directly across the street in an NYU apartment building. When I found an apartment here, one of the first things I looked for was how close the nearest Hollywood Video was. Sadly, this was the last one in Manhattan. At least that Robots poster survived.

In less emotional news, here's a shot of Gramercy Park, where Irving Place magically turns into Lexington at 21st St. It's the city's last private park, meaning only residents of the surrounding buildings get a key to its gates (it's open to the public on Christmas, Yom Kippur, and Gramercy Day, which is different every year). The statue in the center is of Edwin Booth, a former Gramercy resident regarded as one of the best American stage actors ever (specifically the best Hamlet, I believe). He once saved Abraham Lincoln's son from getting hit by a train, and a couple years later, his brother John Wilkes Booth killed the president. I consider this far less disturbing than Roll-n-Roaster being shut down, but I admit that if I lived in the mid 1800s I probably would be more concerned with Lincoln.

Wrapping up this extremely long post (a few more to come tonight), I saw the lowest street sign ever, on Pearl Street between Park Row and the Bowery. Further evidence:

My forearm is not that freakishly huge in real life (I think).