Ladies’ Mile and More

The MTA website showed delays on the G train, so I decided to take the bus down to Williamsburg to catch the L train into the city. Three blocks before the Bedford Avenue stop the bus came to a halt on Driggs Avenue. The driver tried to start again for three times then he addresses the passengers shrugging his shoulders, laughed and said “I’m sorry”. The bus apparently had a serious problem. All passengers got off. No one seemed to be angry. Some wished the driver good luck. For me it was not a big problem. It was a short walk to the L train. But traffic in Williamsburg may have collapsed because the bus blocked the central north-to-south connection. No car and no other bus could pass by.
The L train was passing the tunnel very slowly today, but at least it did.

I got off at Union Square and tried to find the Andy Warhol Monument at the northeast corner. I didn’t find it. What I found north of the park was a Barnes and Noble in a great old building. My rule is not to buy from Barnes and Noble if there is not a reason to do so. But going in is allowed, isn’t it? I looked for the Orchard 97 book, which I had not found in any bookstore so far. They didn’t have it as well. So I browsed through cookbooks to find out if there is any collection of New York recipes. There was none. But I found a “quotable throw”. Really nice to take home, just too big.
My walk through Ladies’ Mile Historic District started on Broadway and took me north towards Madison Square Park. This is a nice part of Broadway. Ladies’ Mile has been a major shopping area in the 19th century – fashion mainly. It still is a good shopping area, but no longer focused on fashion. Interior design is quite strong. Many restaurants are there as well. A great shop is Fishs Eddy, selling everything you might need in the kitchen: dishes, glassware, linen … Absolutely cool stuff. Just not possible to take home .
Flatiron Building is still there at the corner of Broadway and 5th Avenue. As well are the Met Life Building and the beautiful sidewalk clock. And Eisenberg’s Sandwich Shop. That’s where I had lunch.
The place is narrow and crowded, has a big bar and a couple of tables on the other side. In the back there is a larger seating area. The whole place is looking pretty old and apparently is. Four or five men are running around behind the bar, taking orders, preparing sandwiches, receiving dishes from the kitchen and serving them to the guests at the bar. I ordered a tuna sandwich, having been rated best in town. I just had to decide which bread and if I wanted lettuce and tomatoes. It comes with pickles. Was good, but best in town? You don’t get a check, just pay at the cashier when you are leaving. I wonder how they know if you are telling the truth about what you had.

When I wanted to take photos, I had to realize that my camera had no chip. It had stayed at home, in my laptop. So no photos today and I will have to do the walk again. That will provide me with another lunch at Eisenberg’s.

Arriving at 6th Avenue on 23rd street, I thought I might have a look what had happened to Chelsea Hotel. So I walked over to 7th Avenue. Chelsea Hotel looks like it always had looked. No scaffold outside. The plaques at the entry showing writers and artist who had lived there are still in place. Inside some work is going on, but of course you can’t go inside and have a look. Reopening is announced for November this year. So if they will keep in time with whatever they are doing, I will have a chance to get it.

Walking down 6th Avenue I checked out Bed, Bath and Beyond, a huge store in a pretty old building, selling everything you might need at home, from toilet paper to kitchen machines. They especially sell many cosmetic products in travel sizes and they do have customer restrooms. Good to know such places in a city.
On 19th street I paid a visit to Idlewild’s Bookstore, specializing in travel books. They are well organized by country and additionally they offer matching novels and travel writing. After that (no purchase) I followed 5th Avenue back to Union Square. Here still a lot of fashion stores can be found, just selling different stuff to different customers than in the 19th century.

From Union Square I took the 4 Express train to Grand Central to finally visit to the Library again to get a Library Card and see the exhibition. It was half past four, the train was packed, but as it is an express train it is just one stop from 14th to 42nd street. In the Library I walked straight up to the Reading Room, placed my application on one of the two computer terminals for that purpose and got a number that I had to take to a help desk. There I had to show a photo ID and immediately got my card. As my NYC address is temporary it is only valid for 3 months and has to be renewed then. No problem. I proudly signed my card and put it into my purse. Before I walked over to the Mid Manhattan Library, where I now can borrow books (as in all other branches) I stopped at the 4th of July exhibition. But there was a very long line of people wanting to see it. Well, I am not an American. Currently more important was the book I wanted to take with me. Mid Manhattan Library has five floors. The directory shows no New York section. I addressed a help desk and asked where I might find books about New York. The very friendly lady behind the desk said: “This is a very good question”. She told me two sections where I might find books about New York: History on the fifth floor and Travel on the first. She even could tell me the shelf numbers without checking them on her computer. I tried Travel first and did not find my book. The History section was much bigger and took me some time to browse through the shelves. But I did find what I was looking for: The Big City and its Little Neighborhoods. I carried it down to circulation, stood in line there, was called, received a checkout slip and left.

Time to get to SoHo somehow. At Housing Works Bookstore Café a reading of New York stories was scheduled for tonight. I walked down 5th Avenue to 34th street and over to 6th to catch a train to Prince Street. The bookstore was already prepared for an event. I got a slice of zucchini nut bread and a glass of wine and took a seat. The audience was much bigger than in all readings and discussions I had been to so far. There were several rows of chairs but people were as well standing in the back, on both sides and upstairs on the galleries.
The reading was not exactly what I had expected (stories set in New York) but it was interesting. The presenter was Capital New York, an online news publication about how things work in New York. Six reporters read or told their stories, which were not really stories but more like personal essays. Reading was not really good. The authors were reading too fast and not speaking clearly (for foreigners). So I did not understand everything. But I got a clue what it is about. Local experiences and the problems behind them. There was a piece about volunteer work in Far Rockaways after Hurricane Sandy, another one about people in Tompkins Square Park. The stories are collected in an ebook. I would absolutely buy it, but it is only available at Amazon for Kindle. And I will not have a Kindle.
In front of me a young couple was sitting. Until the reading started she was talking to him without interruption, constantly scratching or rubbing his back while talking. When the reading started she ceased talking and removed her hand from his back. But the hand came back and started again. It was bothering me. Finally her head was lying on his shoulder while she continued rubbing his back. They must be really in love. Next to me a girl wearing high heeled ankle boots was sitting and playing a game on her smartphone. Why are those people blocking seats in a reading?

What I learned today:
How to get a Library Card and how to use it. It is so easy!

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8 Responses to Ladies’ Mile and More

  1. Eva says:

    Why not buying from Barnes and Noble? Hi, Maria, good to hear from you so often. Eva

  2. Kathrin Grossniklaus says:

    Yes, and why not get a Kindle? i got one from my children for x-mas and it’s better than I expected. It doesn’t weigh as much as book, easy to use, the reading is comfortable and and and –

    Have a good day.
    Kathrin

    • Maria says:

      I do think an eReader is a practical thing, especially for travelling. But I love books I can take into my hands and put into the shelf after having enjoyed it.In this matter I am pretty old fashioned. And I don’t want to support Amazon too much. I am dreaming of an eReader supported by a pool of all small bookstores and the possibility to get an eBook there for a little surplus when I buy the book in print.

      • Kathrin Grossniklaus says:

        I agree a Kindle is a good Thing if you travel a lot and that is what I mainly use it for. Otherwise- also for me – there’s nothing more beautiful than to hold a book in your Hands, write in it, underline or Highlight things, caress the book, look at it again and again – love it. (Disadvantage – where do I put all those books – have become quite creative.
        Your idea abut a pool small bookstores sounds so good – I would also Support it.
        I’m greatful for the Information about downloading ebooks on the Laptop with an App
        Kathrin

  3. Kim says:

    Hi Maria

    The 97 Orchard recipe book you’re looking for is published by the Lower East Side Tenement Museum. 97 Orchard Street is the address of the tenement they renovated into the museum. Have you not yet been to the new visitor’s center which houses a bookstore? Probably not, as I think it opened within the past two years. All I can say is this: wear a blindfold before you enter. You will want absolutely everything!! Their inventory of books on NY is overwhelming.

    You can download the Kindle app onto your laptop and phone and read Kindle/Amazon books without owning a Kindle. Reading on the phone in a pinch isn’t too bad, actually.

    • Maria says:

      Hi Kim,
      thanks a lot for these informations. I have not been to the Tenement after ist refurbishent. last time I was in NY it was work in process.
      I had no idea that you can read Kindle books without having a Kindle. I will check it.

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