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Taking New York in stride

Taking New York in stride

NEW YORK — My grandmother was born on the Lower East Side in 1888. My mother in 1913. I was born in Los Angeles but visited frequently as a child. When I did, my grandmother would take me walking. Hand-in-hand, we rarely waited at the curb. Red light, green light didn’t matter. She was in a hurry to explore her city. She shared with me her love of city-walking. When you walk, she told me, you never know the surprises you’ll encounter.
On a recent trip, I renewed my love of New York by walking 5-8km a day. I enjoyed the exercise of walking on narrow-streets in the West Village and the wide, traffic-intense avenues in Midtown. I visited museums, discovered excellent restaurants and became my own tour guide, enjoying the life of America’s largest city.

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Above: The Empire State Building, left, and Radio City Music Hall are two of New York's great landmarks.

West Village, Chelsea, Meatpacking District and Union Square

Staying in the West Village, I was close to Union Square’s Greenmarket with flowers, fresh vegetables, fruit, cheeses and breads and to cozy restaurants on Hudson St. between Leroy and W 12th. Walking in Union Square led me to the totally unexpected restaurant Tortaria (94 University Place). Its brightly painted outdoor cabana caught my eye. Inside, the cozy, inviting bar was festooned with coloured lights. The Mexican style hamburger with melted mozzarella and pickled jalapeños was the perfect pick-me-up.
In the Meatpacking District, I visited the Whitney (99 Gansevoort St.) to see their 2022 Biennial (“Quiet As It’s Kept”). Curators David Breslin and Adrianne Edwards chose art that reflected “these precarious and improvised times.” I lingered on the museum’s Lee Family Terrace to enjoy a remarkable view of New York’s most iconic landmarks—the Statue of Liberty, the 911 Freedom Tower and the Empire State Building.
Just outside the Whitney, I climbed the metal staircase to the High Line, a 2.33km-long park that was once an elevated freight rail line. With views of steel and glass skyscrapers and the Hudson River, I passed flowering trees and colourful plants as I walked from Gansevoort to 34th St.
On Little Island, a compact park built on pilings driven deep into the Hudson River, I saw people picnicking on lawns and exercising on walkways. On the hill above the 687-seat amphitheater, I paused to listen to a band rehearse for its night-time performance.

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Above: New York's Chinatown is one of the biggest and best in the U.S. with some very famous restaurants and dishes.


I always visit Chinatown for the energy and the food. On Canal between Broadway and Bowery, I dodged people with heavy bags who shopped at stalls selling fruit, produce and fresh fish laid out on ice-slicked trays.  
The day I arrived, a glowing review sent me to Uncle Lou’s (73 Mulberry). I walked as fast as I could to get there and feasted on braised pork belly with mui choy (pickled mustard greens), crispy garlic chicken and delicate chow mei fun. I ate salt and pepper shrimp on wilted lettuce at Nha Trang One (87 Baxter). I returned to Wu’s Wonton King (165 Broadway) several times because I craved their delicious watercress, shrimp and pork dumplings.

42nd St., Midtown, Central Park and the Upper East Side

Look up. There are remarkable buildings everywhere. My favourite neighbourhoods are ones with tree-lined streets, but Midtown beckons when I want to indulge my love of 1930s Art Deco architecture.
Even after more than 90 years, the elegant 443.2m-tall Empire State Building (20 W 34th Street) still captures the imagination. At Rockefeller Center, I joined other visitors staring at the 14m tall statue of Atlas holding up a stylized globe. As noteworthy, three massive sculptures, "Prometheus, Youth and Maiden," frame the plaza where the skating rink brings so much delight in winter.

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Above: New York's museums and exhibits are the envy of the art world.

At 6th Ave. and 49th St., I walked past another iconic façade, Radio City Music Hall.
After walking more than 8,000 steps one morning, I stopped in front of the glass display case at Lodi (1 Rockefeller Plaza). The Italian pastries looked delicious. Seated on the outdoor patio, I people-watched as I relaxed with an espresso and a slice of hazelnut ricotta cake.
Recharged, I walked to the Museum of Modern Art (11 W. 53rd St.). The exhibits of works by contemporary and modern artists make MoMA a must-see on any trip to New York. I continued uptown on Fifth Ave. to Museum Mile, stretching from 82nd to 105th Sts.
Six world-class museums are wonderful places to explore art, culture and history. On this sunny afternoon, my destination was the Metropolitan Museum of Art (1000 Fifth Ave.).
With over two million works, the Met is so large, I focused on two galleries.
The Lehman Collection’s quiet, elegant gallery was a good place to enjoy the craft of the Old Masters. At the Costume Institute’s “In America: A Lexicon of Fashion” exhibit, each of the almost 100 dresses, coats and suits was paired with a word. A high-spirited, blue silk organza gown by Rodarte (Kate and Laura Mulleavy) epitomized “Ebullience,” while “Conviction” was embodied in Donna Karan’s coordinated jacket and bodysuit.
After the Met, I walked into Central Park. Stretching from 59th to 110th Sts., between Fifth Ave. and Central Park West, the 843-acre park was a sanctuary of trails, grassy fields, ponds, woods, flowering trees and well-tended flower gardens. I bought a bag of hot caramelized peanuts from a food cart. On a bench under a tree’s sheltering branches, I munched on peanuts and watched couples walking hand-in-hand, dog walkers holding onto energetic pets and parents with kids in tow.

Next Time

As this walking-adventure was ending, I was already planning my return to the city. I’ll visit the art galleries in SoHo and Tribeca, Times Square at night when the giant video screens light up the darkness and crowds surround street performers, the Natural History Museum on the Upper West Side and the emotional National September 11 Memorial Museum and the Museum of Jewish Heritage.





New York


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