Midtown Surprises

That’s one of those things I love most in New York: it still offers surprises – all the time and everywhere.
I was to meet Soh Ang outside Bloomingdale’s at the corner of 59th Street and Lexington Avenue at 5pm. After a bit of literary work and the leftover fried green tomatoes for lunch I left Crown Heights towards Manhattan in the early afternoon. A 5 train took me to Grand Central Station and from there I walked east today. So not towards the library but towards the East River. I followed a walk I had spotted in an older travel journal back home. East 42nd Street is full of art deco architecture. Its highlight is the Chrysler Building, right next to Grand Central, but as stated in an earlier post not really visible from there. It can be seen from the bridge that spans over 42nd Street at 1st Avenue to connect the buildings of Tudor City.
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Built in the 1920s Tudor City was the world’s first residential skyscraper complex. Then its neighbor to the east was a slaughterhouse area, today it is the United Nations headquarter. My walk took me up 1st Avenue to 50th Street and over to Lexington via 2nd Avenue and 53rd Street. This area is full of modern skyscrapers like the Lipstick Building in red granite and steel, the Citygroup Center with its 45° angled top, the International Building with its blue tower and the Sony Tower with its Chippendale top.
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The surprising elements however are not the skyscrapers but the tiny old buildings between them. Especially on 2nd Avenue and on 53rd Street a lot of them have survived and mainly host restaurants and bars. They give the area a lively element and appear like struggling defenders in a field of ever growing skyscrapers in steel and glass.
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Lexington Avenue is a shopping paradise with Bloomingdale’s as its temple.
Following Lexington uptown might be as interesting as following Broadway. It starts at Gramercy Park and runs all the way up to Harlem River. I already discovered its Indian part down in Murray Hill, the Puerto Rican part up in East Harlem and the Upper East Side “normal” shopping counterpart to posh Madison Avenue.

I took Soh Ang to Harlem and showed her Astor Row, where I had spent a great month, Strivers Row, the Avenues and 125th Street. Finally we had a soul food dinner at Sylvia’s. Soh Ang had southern fried chicken, I had BBQ ribs. We did not manage a dessert.

What I learned today:
Be curious! There are still places to discover.

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