More Exploring + A Teletubby


Another twofer! Here we go.

Wednesday: The Civic Center and South Street Seaport
I started this day off with a quick trip to Midtown to see a couple buildings that I’d missed (Type A, I know). Even though it was out-of-the-way considering the rest of my day’s plans, the NY Yacht Club made it worth the trip. It’s a private club that’s been around since 1899--and with that exclusivity comes a no-visitors policy to its stunning lobby (%#@%#!!!!). No matter. The outside is just as beautiful, with carved sterns of ships sailing on sculpted sea waves.

After that detour, I headed downtown. Like Lower Manhattan, the Civic Center and South Street Seaport are areas rife with history. New York literally began here. I got off the metro at City Hall, and laughed when I read that the rear of the building—which faces north—was not clad in marble until 1954 because the architects never expected the city to develop further north. (Google Map it for some perspective.) The park surrounding City Hall is where the Declaration of Independence was read to George Washington’s troops in July 1776.

One of my favorite buildings in the area is the former AT&T Building, built in 1922. In its heyday, it was said to have had more columns than any other building in the world. Its lobby (Yes! You can actually go into the lobby! Hallelu) is a veritable forest of columns as well. Along with the nearby Equitable Building (whose immense bulk was responsible for the nation’s first skyscraper zoning regulations), the AT&T Building is a monument to excess.

The Surrogate’s Court, however, holds my heart as this area’s most beautiful building. I love love love Beaux Arts structures, so it already has a one-up on everything else. Not like it needs it. Its interior was inspired by the Paris Opera—I’ve never been, but if it looks anything like the inside of the Surrogate’s Court, it must be breathtaking. Marble staircases, ceiling mosaics and frescoes. Naturally, you can’t take picture inside the lobby (I was just happy to be allowed in there), but I’m sure you can Google image search photos for yourself.

I also loved the New York County Courthouse. The carvings and sculptures inside its outside pediment (that triangular section atop the columns) were beautiful, but my favorite part was the marble-columned rotunda inside. There were beautiful Tiffany lighting fixtures and detailed ceiling murals depicting Law and Justice through the ages. I must’ve looked so silly to the security men working nearby—I stood in the center of the rotunda for a good ten minutes just twirling around with my head arched back looking at all the murals. (Again, photography wasn’t allowed inside.)

My final stop of the day was the South Street Seaport. It’s very touristy, but still fun to see. There are shops, restaurants, cobblestone streets, rows of Federal-style houses, a fleet of 19th-century ships in the harbor, museums, and Pier 17 with sweeping views of the East River and the Brooklyn Bridge. It would be fun to go and have dinner there at the Bridge CafĂ© (opened in 1791!), but think we may have to save that for our next New York trip ;)

Thursday: Chinatown, Little Italy, East Village, and the Lower East Side

Wow, this post is getting out of control. Time for….BULLET POINTS!!!!!!!!!!!1

  • Mott Street: Tons of fun shops with all sorts of touristy and Oriental bric-a-brac. 
  • Eastern States Buddhist Temple: I’d been here before with Brock, but I love stepping inside and smelling the incense. There are offerings of fresh fruit piled high everywhere, and beautiful Buddhist decorations everywhere. They also happen to sell jade jewelry—I fell in love with a gorgeous bracelet in the display case. I texted a picture of it to Brock with the caption “$38…do you love me?” To my surprise, he said yes! I mean, I knew he loved me, but I didn’t know he $38-bracelet loved me. Little did I know what pain that bracelet would cause me . . . stay tuned for Saturday’s post! 
  • Columbus Park: The only park in Chinatown, created in the late 1890’s as a way to fix what was, at the time, the city’s worst slum. (A stabbing or shooting at least once per week!) Although the “park” is definitely more concrete than grass, it serves as a great communal spot for people in the area. People play songs on traditional Chinese instruments while hordes of others flock to tables and benches for games of mah jong. 

Little Italy
  • Mulberry Street: Poor Little Italy is always fighting off the encroachment of Chinatown, but once place that is strictly Italian is Mulberry Street between Canal and Broome. There are approximately four billion Italian eateries on this stretch of road, with each smelling more enticing than the one before. I picked up a piece of tiramisu for Brock at one of them to thank him for my jade bracelet.
Poor Little Italy . . . look at how Chintaown just keeps creeping up to it!

East Village
  • St. Mark’s Place aka Hipster Alley: This street was once the heart of hippiedom in NYC, and by the looks of it, things haven’t changed in the past fifty years. There is definitely a counter-culture feel to St. Mark’s, what with its endless tattoo parlors, vintage boutiques, bars, and record stores.  
  • St. Mark’s-in-the-Bowery Church: The second-oldest church in New York. Stands on land where Peter Stuyvesant, governor of Dutch New York in the 1600s, had his private chapel. In the 60s it was one of the city’s most politically active congregations, and it apparently continues to live on the avant-garde edge. 
  • Renwick Triangle: A beautiful group of townhouses built in 1861 by James Renwich, Jr. They’re built on land that was once Peter Stuyvesant’s farm, and were developed by his descendants as stylish residences. 
Can you tell this is an artsy part of the city? :)

Lower East Side
  • To-do list for next time: Lower East Side Tenement Museum. Looks fascinating! 
I loved   walking through all the streets filled with tenements. So much history in them, so many stories.
  • Orchard Street: A fun area filled with cute boutiques and discount shops. came to be during the 1940s, when the mayor of New York outlawed pushcarts in the city. 
  • Ludlow Street: The Lower East Side has emerged as the newest trendy area for clubs, restaurants, and shopping. Some residents are even moving into the tenement buildings that their great-grandparents fought to escape from! Ludlow Street is the perfect way to get a feel for the Lower East Side’s current scene. Personally, I thought the Lower East Side was sort of dilapidated and meh (minus Ludlow and Orchard). Then again, I didn’t spend much time wandering around to all the cute shops dotted throughout the area (no room to spare in my suitcase! I may have over-packed a teensy bit on the way here). I think I’ll need to give this area a second chance someday. 


Welp, leave it to me to NOT SAVE ANY TIME NOR SPACE DOING BULLET POINTS. Whatevs. Before I let you go, I have one last anecdote from Thursday

I was walking down Orchard when I hear Janis Joplin wailing down the way. It's "Cry Baby"--one of the greatest blues songs of all time. And it's playing from an actual record, so it sounds even better. 

As I approach the store it's blasting from, I notice a man at its entrance. He's chubby, about 6'2'', middle-aged, and has confidence to spare. I mean, c'mon: He's singing and swaying to Janis in the middle of the sidewalk, and the fact that he's balding hasn't prevented him from growing his hair out to his shoulders and dying it fire engine red. He looks like the purple Teletubby on crack.

I look inside the store as I pass him. Vintage clothes. Legit  vintage clothes. You know how high school hipsters buy ugly 90s crap from Goodwill and call it "vintage"? Yeah. This stuff wasn't for wannabes.

The man noticed my pausing and flashed me a grin. 

Here's the thing. When a person dancing to Janis Joplin grins, their heart is so replete with JANIS  that any smile emanating therefrom is electrifying. 


When said person has the most rotted mouth you've ever seen, the resulting internal conflict--Janis smile! / AAAAAGHGHH! PIRATE TEETH!!! DISGUSTING!!!!!--is so jarring that you lose all sense of good judgment. This, perhaps, explains the reason why I said "Ahhhh what's the use in resisting! I have  to go inside!" instead of continuing my walk down Orchard Street.

"Ha-HAAAAAA honey, that's what I like to hear! Get down there!"

Being the store's lone employee, he followed me down. I felt the inside of my nostrils singe. He hadn't showered in at least  a few days (as evidenced by the grime under his long, ragged fingernails and  toenails) and hadn't brushed his teeth in . . . oh gosh, I don't even want to think about it. (Suffice it to say that the few teeth he did  have were yellow, crooked, and decaying.) His breath was the single most putrid thing I have ever smelled in my life. No hyperbole. It makes me nauseous just thinking about it.

The shop was extraordinary. Dresses, coats, furs, jewelry--it looked like someone had stolen Jackie O's closet and put it up for sale. Teletubby (I'm sorry--I forget his name!) noticed me gushing over a coat.

"OMG, if you like that, you are going to LOVE  this. Close your eyes."

He guided my arms through the sleeves of another coat and told me to open my eyes. My heart melted: A knee-length emerald green overcoat with a soft, shimmery floral pattern. If that wasn't enough, he brought over the coordinating dress and clasp purse that it went with! Incredible. Move over, Betty Draper!

I kept browsing around while he hovered over me, showing me all his favorite pieces (including a dress from the 1880s!). Each time he spoke, I held my breath for as long as I could so as not smell his words. After a mere ten minutes in the store, I couldn't take it anymore. I made up some lame excuse as to why I had to go, and bid my Janis Joplin-loving Teletubby adieu.

And exhaled.

I snapped this picture as I was leaving. He's holding the emerald dress I was talking about.


  1. I'm sorry about your disgusting vintage store experience. I wonder if people like that know how uncomfortable they make other people feel.

    I just Googled a picture of the Surrogate Court and it looks like something out of Austria or Germany. Seriously, I have a picture just like that from my trip there - I had to double-check the label to ake sure I was looking at the right thing. I can tell why you're in love with it!


© Raesevelt All rights reserved . Design by Blog Milk Powered by Blogger