Thursday, April 19, 2018

M Is for the Museum of Natural History

 If we remember our subway history from just a few posts ago, this sign once read B and K. In 1988 the K line became the C line and it has stayed the C line for the last thirty years. We're now at the next stop going north from West 72nd Street and the Dakota. Central Park is on one side of Central Park West and on the other side of the street is the Museum of Natural History, which I highly recommend if you are visiting New York City.
The station has wonderful mosaics reflecting the collection and work of the museum.  This is a just one sample of work that includes casts of fossils.

The museum was begun in 1869. It quickly outgrew its original exhibition space in the Central Park Arsenal. President Ulysses S. Grant presided over the cornerstone ceremony for the present building in 1874. As a personal aside, I had the great good fortune to work at the museum for two years in the late 1970s. One of my favorite memories was walking out of the building in the evenings -- the staff entrance is  on a lower level in back of these stairs -- and passing the exhibits. It was a scene out of the movie, "Night at the Museum." I was spooked at first. The lights were turned down in the evenings and there were few people walking around. But as time went by I came to treasure the uniqueness of the experience.
The Hayden Planetarium  has a beautiful new home in the Rose Center for Earth and Space. The original planetarium opened in 1935 and for many of my friends -- and for me --  it was our first introduction to astronomy. In 2000 the Planetarium became part of the newly created Rose Center.
The next stop on our A to Z Blogging Challenge tour will take us to one of the busiest stations in New York City. No other clues, but we'll be joined by an estimated 200,000 other people on our visit. I hope you will join us for the subway ride. 
As ever, thanks for visiting. I hope we all get to see spring very quickly. I think the groundhog told us a fib and I am tired of my winter coat and gloves. Spring, please come soon!


Tuesday, April 17, 2018

L Is for Lincoln Center Station

The Plaza at Lincoln Center and the Metropolitan Opera House

My subway line is the #1, and no, that's not a hashtag. I live near the station at West 86th and at least once a week I take the subway three stops to Lincoln Center and West 66th Street. There is a farmer's market on Wednesdays, my gym is two blocks south and one of the local movie theaters is two blocks north. Even though I've probably gone to this station at least 500 times in the last five years and perhaps a thousand more times in the years I've lived in the neighborhood, the thrill of stepping out of the subway and seeing Lincoln Center has not grown stale. I doubt if it ever will.  
Dante Park, one of my year round favorite places to sit and enjoy New York City 
Across the street from Lincoln Center is Dante Park. Established in 1921 to honor the Italian poet, the park includes a section with tables and chairs. It is a great place to people watch, drink a cup of coffee and enjoy a spring day. We haven't had many days yet to sit out and watch the world walk by on Broadway, but I'm hoping these almost late winter days -- Today, I'm talking to you! -- will soon be history.    

Dante Park at Christmas.

When I want to sit out and have a cup of coffee -- and for a treat, a perfect cheese Danish -- I head to Breads Bakery at 63rd Street and Broadway. Actually I head to Breads Bakery for a cup of coffee after I visit the gym, for a loaf of bread to bring to a friend's dinner party or to buy the best chocolate babka anywhere. I am greeted by the perfect aroma of butter and sugar, which next to the scent of lilac may be my favorite. The coffee is excellent and though I'd love a Danish (or two) at each visit I am content/delighted with the tiny samples that are passed around. I know citizens of Buttercupland who don't live in New York may be taken aback by the price of the Danish pastry. If it was an ordinary Danish, I wouldn't even share the photograph. But one buttery, flaky near-perfect Danish is rich and filling enough for two people and definitely worth the price. If anyone wants to do a taste test with me, it's my treat!

I'm getting hungry just looking at the Danish. Happily tomorrow is a gym day and I may just stop by Breads for coffee and whatever the sample of the day may be. I wish you all could join me.

I hope you've enjoyed this glimpse into the life of Buttercup and the Lincoln Center Station for our L post for Blogging from A to Z. Hint for M: We're going uptown!

As ever, thanks for visiting and have a wonderful Wednesday!

Sunday, April 15, 2018

K Is for the K Line

Central Park in the Spring
If you looked at a present day map of the subway system you wouldn't find the K Line. But for three years there was a K Line and it was the gateway to Central Park on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. Throughout the history of the subway system lines have been renamed, usually as service is reorganized. The K started out as the AA line in 1932. It was the Eighth Avenue local -- with stops approximately every ten blocks -- and it ran from 168th Street in Upper Manhattan to Chambers Street/Hudson Terminal in Lower Manhattan. In 1985 the AA became the K line and in 1988 the K's brief time was over and it became the C line.   

I chose to feature the subway stop at West 72nd Street for its access to Central Park and because this station is on the same corner as The Dakota. The Dakota is a classic New York apartment building, completed in 1884. Legend says it was named for Dakota, because the area around it was sparsely inhabited. It's a beautiful building with a center courtyard and views of Central Park. It has had many famous residents including Lauren Bacall, Joe Namath and Lillian Gish.

It has become a tourist destination, though, for perhaps its most famous resident, John Lennon. Often groups of tourists are outside the building taking pictures.

The building's fa├žade was completely renovated in 2015.

 I've walked by many times -- it's less than a mile from where I live -- but I've never noticed the iron work before. It surrounds the building on Central Park West.   

The entrance to the Dakota -- and the tragic site where John Lennon was killed.
If anyone is keeping track of the A to Z Challenge, I know I am falling behind. I should have completed M yesterday and alas, I am just finishing K. I may be a little out of synch with the rest of my A to Z bloggers, but I'm optimistic about completing all 26 posts in April. Our next post will feature a world famous arts center and one of my favorite stations.
I'm joining this post with my Pink Saturday friends. I'm so glad you stopped by for a visit to the K line and I hope you have the opportunity to share the fun at Pink Saturday.
As ever, thanks for visiting and have a great week! 

Thursday, April 12, 2018

J Is for the J Line

City Hall at night

There are a lot of subway stops near New York City's City Hall. One way to get there from Queens, Brooklyn and the Lower East Side of Manhattan is to take the J line to Fulton/Nassau and that's what we're doing tonight. The J line starts in Jamaica, Queens, stops at JFK Airport and then goes through Brooklyn. It continues to the Lower East Side to Fulton Street and then ends at Wall Street.

Whether it's violet and pink...

Or blue and green...
The newly rebuilt Fulton Center is a great sight. Actually the Fulton Center is a transportation hub not only for the J line, but for eight other subway lines. After part of the downtown subway complex was destroyed on September 11, the maze of winding halls and stairs that was made up of five subway stations built in the first part of the Twentieth century was merged into one new transportation center that is connected underneath lower Manhattan. Above ground there are shops and restaurants in a beautiful glass and steel setting. After over a dozen years of construction the complex opened in 2014.
The Fulton Center is crowded during the weekdays, but during the weekend it's one of my favorite places to stop in for a snack or coffee when I'm in Lower Manhattan. I promise a post later in the year with photographs of the interior and snack recommendations.
Across the street from the Fulton Center is one of the best scenes of old and new New York. One World Trade Center is on the left and surrounding the steeple of St. Paul's Chapel. St. Paul's is part of the Parish of Trinity Church Wall Street. It was opened in 1766 as part of Trinity Church (which we'll visit as part of another subway stop). After George Washington took the oath office in 1789 at Federal Hall just a few blocks away the new President of the United States went to a service at St. Paul's. Despite its closeness to the World Trade Center St. Paul's was undamaged. It served as a center of the relief effort for first responders and volunteers. I worked about half a mile south of the Chapel at the time and I remember passing it many times. The iron fence around it were covered in posters people had put up of their loved ones.

We're going back to the Upper West Side for our next few subway stops on our A to Z Blogging Challenge. No hints this time -- let's have a little suspense -- but I think we're going to have fun.

As ever, thanks for visiting. We finally had a spring day here and I hope you did, too!

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

I Is for the Interborough Rapid Transit Company (IRT)

We're not late! We're just in time for I
In order to do this series I've spent time reviewing the list of subway stations. Some letters I didn't need to think about -- G was Grand Central and T will be Times Square. But a few of the other letters are challenges. My first challenge was "I." I couldn't find a station, so I dug into rapid transit history for the Interborough Rapid Transit Company (IRT).  Generally referred to as the IRT this was the company that constructed and ran the first subway line in New York City. It opened in October 1904 and ran from City Hall in Lower Manhattan to 145th Street and Broadway. As the population of the city grew underground transportation was the only way to move millions of people every day and construction followed in the following decades. 
I chose the 50th Street station on the local line for "I." This was my stop on the way to work for almost ten years and I became very familiar with the wonderful Alice in Wonderland ceramic mosaics by Liliana Porter. 
 This is the scene when I climb the stairs out of the station and turn south, Times Square. 
We've gone from one wonderland to another very different wonderland.  
Tomorrow our  A to Z Blogging Challenge visit will be a station downtown and we'll get to see one of my favorite buildings in New York City. Please be part of the fun.   

As ever, thanks for visiting and have a wonderful Wednesday.

H Is for Hudson Yards

Welcome to Hudson Yards
In 2018 the far west side of Manhattan will have a new neighborhood. Hudson Yards is the largest construction development in New York City since Rockefeller Center. The project was begun in 2014 and when completed next year it will contain 18 million square feet of commercial and residential space. There will also be three parks, an arts center and the highest outdoor observation deck in North America.
The scene at the top of the escalator. It takes a lot of construction to build 18 million square feet.
 Xenobia Bailey's glass mosaics are the glittering welcome to the station
One of the newest stations in the subway system, the Hudson Yards station extends the "7" line to the far west side of Manhattan and the Hudson River. The line continues to Times Square, Grand Central and through Queens to Flushing. The station was opened in 2015 and will give access to the new neighborhood and to the Javits Convention Center.  
 Until the construction is completed, the station will remain uncrowded, especially at an off-peak hour. One of the office buildings is open, but I was there late morning yesterday and I had the entire platform mostly to myself.
It is one of the deepest stations and this is the escalator that goes to the entrance to the station.
I enjoyed visiting this station very much. I was last there in October for a photography show at the Javits Center and was dazzled at the number of new buildings going up. For the next post we return to a station in the center of Manhattan. Hint for the post: the murals are from a beloved children's book.
Thanks for joining me on my A to Z Blogging Challenge  journey. Have a great Tuesday!

Sunday, April 8, 2018

G Is for Grand Central

This is a slow day at a slow time at Grand Central.
Grand Central, on the east side of Manhattan, is one of my favorite stations. It has a rich history, beautiful architecture, one of my favorite places to get a snack and is home to my optician. I've never counted how many times I've been there, but in the 40+ years I've lived in New York, I've easily been there at least 100 times a year. I've seen it in its sadder and seedier days in the 1970s and 1980s and I continue to be delighted with the beautiful renovation that was completed in 1998.
  An exterior view of Grand Central. The "Pan Am" (now MetLife) building is in the background and the Chrysler Building is on the right.
In 1854 steam engines -- and their smoke and fumes -- were banned from Manhattan below 42nd St. The railroads of the time in the area cooperated to open a depot at East 42nd St. As train traffic grew the building was renovated (in 1901) and a new building opened in 1913. The building went from a depot in 1871 to a station in 1901 and finally Grand Central Terminal in 1913. During the 1960s designs were proposed to tear down Grand Central and replace it with an office building. After opposition to its destruction the Supreme Court upheld landmark status. The building was saved, but its condition after years of neglect was sad and shabby. 
Ultimately ownership passed to Metro-North -- the commuter railroad for Westchester County and Connecticut. Repair work began to stop the deterioration. In the 1990s an ambitious renovation project took place bringing back the beauty of Grand Central. 
I was at Grand Central today and was delighted to find this beautiful couple
 posing for wedding pictures.   
I've been somewhat remiss in food and coffee suggestions during this series, but I'm making sure to include Great Northern Food Hall at Grand Central. Yes, it's a food court, but with some of the very best choices. It offers food choices of the Nordic countries, with a focus on local ingredients. I'm a fan of the coffee at Brownsville Roasters, one of the vendors in the Hall, where this yummy picture was taken there. There are a variety of stands with flat breads, sandwiches, sweets and salads. 

I hope you've enjoyed our visit to Grand Central. I'm linking up with my friends at Pink Saturday, another one of my favorite places. My hint for H is a visit to one of the newest neighborhoods in Manhattan and one of the newest stations. Any guesses?

As ever, thanks for visiting. See you again soon!