Lauren's New York Challenge

Exploring the city from A to Z

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Central Park: The Return

Okay, I know I took rather too long a break between my last post and this one. I don't have much of an excuse except for the fact that summer was beautiful and I was lazy. I'm back now, and I hope you're in the mood for a post with lots of pictures!

One Saturday in October, I went back to Central Park and took the "Arts and Walking Architecture Tour" from the Central Park website. I knew if I didn't have some kind of path to follow, I wouldn't even scratch the surface of this spectacular park.

I started at the South East corner of the park and walked north past The Pond. The leaves were turning, and the weather was warm, so tons of people were happily exploring the park along with me.

A view of The Pond. In the distance, you can see the towers of Columbus Circle.

At the top of the pond was the gorgeous Gapstow Bridge.

Isn't it like something out of a L.M. Montgomery book?

My next stop was the Zoo where I saw...


Red Pandas!

Polar bear butts!

The next animal of note was outside the zoo in the form of the statue of Balto, an "Alaskan Malmute who braved fierce Arctic weather to deliver a badly needed antitoxin that save a community from a diptheria epidemic." Not exactly sure what it's doing in Central Park, but the kids seem to like it.

Then I walked over to the Conservatory Water. It was fun to see children and their families sailing toy boats across the water.

To the west of the Conservatory Water was a statue of Hans Christian Anderson.

The statue is a recent addition to the park. It is dedicated to the children who lost parents in 9/11. I have to admit, I got a little choked up just looking at it. (Note the duckling at HCA's feet.)

As I left the statue, I passed a little girl who ran up to two of her friends and gasped, "You guys, Alice is in the park!" She wasn't talking about a pop star; she was referring to the giant Alice in Wonderland statue close by.

You can just make out Alice, the Mad Hatter and the March Hare underneath the pile of kids. What the attraction was to sit on this statue, I can't say, but look at them!

Around the statue, stones were inscribed with quotes from Carroll's books. Here's one from the poem "The Jabberwocky."

As I walked away from the Alice statue, I saw a little two year old girl happily running off from her parents. Once she got a good distance away, her dad called out, "Anna, don't go too far--a monster will eat you!" Beware the Jabberwock, my son.

This description from the Central Park's website really says it all about Cleopatra's Needle:

Perhaps the strangest monument in Central Park is the 71 foot, 244 ton Obelisk, or 'Cleopatra’s Needle.' Easily the oldest man made object in the park, it is located in what is now a secluded bower directly behind the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The Obelisk was originally erected in Heliopolis around 1500 BC and was moved to Alexandria around 12 B.C. by Rome’s Augustus Caesar. There it remained until 1879 when it was shipped to the United States as a gift of the Khedive of Egypt, who offered it to the U.S. as a token of good faith to help stimulate economic relations between the two countries. Or it was swiped by William H. Vanderbilt against the wishes of the Egyptians. It depends on who you ask.

After I passed Cleopatra's Needle, I walked over to the great lawn--probably the best place in the city for a picnic.

Once I had spent a few relaxing minutes on the lawn, I headed over to Belvedere Castle. (Sing it with me, "Streaks on the china...")

I climbed to the top of the castle. There is all kinds of meteorological equipment up there. In fact, if you are listening to the weather and you hear "It's (blank) degrees in New York City" this is where they are taking the reading from. There are also some really amazing views of the Delacorte Theatre (home of Shakespeare in the Park) and the Great Lawn up there.

The next stop on my Central Park adventure was Bow Bridge. Even if you've never set foot in Central Park, you probably recognize Bow Bridge. It's one of the most photographed and filmed locations in the park. It's also one of the most romantic places in the city.

Lovely day for a row...
Two love birds on the bridge...

My final stop that day was probably my favorite spot in all of Central Park: Bethesda Fountain.

Close up on the Angel of the Waters

At the top of the steps on Bethesda Terrace there were dozens of hula hoops on the ground and kids, and a few adults, who had picked them up and were hula hooping just for the fun of it. You gotta love New York.

I had allotted 3 hours to take this tour of Central Park, and that wasn't nearly enough time. I had to skedaddle out of there so as not to be late meeting a friend. I was sore from walking (again), but really happy I'd finally explored this magnificent place. It wasn't until later that I realized I completely missed the carousel. I guess that's further proof that you really can't experience everything this park has to offer in one trip.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Central Park

Central Park isn't really a neighborhood, it's true, but it takes up so much real estate in Manhattan that I decided I needed to add it to the list. It is bordered on the north by West 110th Street (aka Central Park North), on the south by West 59th Street (Central Park South), and on the west by Eighth Avenue (Central Park West). It's eastern border is 5th Avenue (just 5th Ave.).

Many people don't realize that the park is not a pocket of untouched land from before we scraped our skies. In fact, Central Park was designed by architects Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux and is almost entirely landscaped. I would go into more detail about the history of the place, but it would take more room than I'm prepared to grant it here. Instead, I'd like to direct you all to The Bowery Boys' very entertaining and informative podcasts about Central Park's design and development. (God bless The Bowery Boys.)

My first trip to the park (for the purposes of this blog) took place on May 18th for the annual AIDS Walk New York. I met up with my friends Kristen and Melissa at 8am at the Apple Store on the corner of 59th and 5th and we made our way to the start line by the Sheep Meadow. Before the walk begins there a lot of speeches were the stars of such shows as CSI: New York and Law and Order tell you how awesome you are for walking. Melissa and Kristen and I took this as an opportunity to relax in the grass.

A lot of large groups from schools, churches and companies were walking, but none of them seemed as big as the group from Target. We saw red t-shirts with the "Target circles" everywhere! One Target guy had brought his dog with him and tied a Target bandana around his neck. This dog was the star of the show for me. He was, quite possibly, the happiest dog I have ever seen. He must have been happy knowing he was doing his canine bit to fight AIDS.

"I want to love you!"

Another noteworthy walker was the "bird man." This was an older guy, dressed in a colorful gown, with a dog in a baby carriage and a bird on his head. Perhaps this picture of him and Kristen will give you a better idea of his splendor...

Note the bird on Kristen's head and the Target balloons in the background.

The walk began around 10:30am as Shuler Hensley, star of Mel Brook's Young Frankenstein, serenaded us with "You'll Never Walk Alone." And we were off! The walk is over 6 miles in total. You walk all the way to Central Park North, out of the park and west on Cathedral Parkway, down Riverside Drive to 74th St., east on 74th to Central Park West, down Central Park West to the 72nd St. entrance to the park, back inside the park and down to the starting point. With all the traffic and bathroom breaks it took us 3 hours. I'm also a little embarrassed to mention that my feet were killing me towards the end.

We did have fun along the way, though. We stopped by Strawberry Fields.

A portrait of the blogger

We did a little off-roading when we got frustrated with the mob of people we had to walk through.

We saw lots of gay cheerleaders.

Kristen had a Chariots of Fire moment when we reached the finish line.

And we were rewarded for our efforts with t-shirts, hats, and the best ice cream any of us had ever tasted.

All in all it was a very successful day: we raised money for AIDS research, saw a lot of interesting people and took a nice walk in one of the world's most glorious parks. However, even though I spent a significant amount of time in Central Park that day, I felt I had barely scratched the surface of this things to see, so I planned another trip.

To be continued...

Tuesday, April 22, 2008


I had originally intended to go to Chinatown the weekend of the Chinese New Year celebration, however the blizzard of '08 struck the day I planned on going. I figured it would defeat the purpose of seeing the parade considering I couldn't see outside my own window. Chinatown would have to wait... until now. My friend Pam, who was visiting from Boston, asked if we could explore the neighborhood, and despite the fact that the next place on my list was Central Park (the challenge rules are subject to change and blatant disregard after all), I decided to make Chinatown my next stop.

There are many Chinatowns, but New York's Chinatown is the largest in the United States. NYC's Chinatown is also, according to its website, "the site of the largest concentration of Chinese in the western hemisphere." It is bordered by Delancy St. to the north, East Broadway to the east, Broadway to the west, and Chambers St. to the south.

In the mid-nineteenth century, Chinese immigrants, particularly men, were drawn to America's Pacific coast by the gold rush and the promise of work on the Central Pacific Railroad. When a large anti-Chinese movement developed, culminating in The Chinese Exclusion Act, the Chinese workers fled to cities in the east.

The new law forbade further immigration, and so the workers' wives and children could not join them in their new country. This created a bachelor society in New York's newly developing Chinatown neighborhood, where there were less than 200 Chinese women and 7,000 Chinese men. The Act also prevented Chinese people in the country from applying for citizenship, making them permanent aliens.

In retaliation, Chinatown created it's own governing organization, the Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association, with its own constitution, taxes and even police force. The CCBA was made up of smaller societies or "tongs." Gang violence between tongs and (white) rumors of opium dens and prostitution made Chinatown a feared place during this period in history.

In 1943 (60 years later, people), the Exclusion Act was lifted, Chinatown was given a small immigration quota, and the neighborhood slowly began to grow. When the quota was expanded in 1968, the neighborhood exploded, absorbing much of the original Little Italy. Today the area continues to grow, but with increasing rents many have moved to the satellite Chinatown that has even developed in Queens.

Pam and I took the 6 train to Canal St. and stepped out into a bustling street market scene. People were selling fruit, tchotchkes, and...sea food? I had never seen someone sell prawns, squid and assorted mollusks like a street fruit vendor. Just picture a basket of apples--crawling, clawing apples.

As we were looking around, one of the crabs in a basket pictured above actually got free, jumped to the street, and tried to make a break for it. A man from the stall went running after it and put it back in its basket on top of its brothers and sisters. It seemed to me that if a crab managed to break out like that it was only fair to let it go. That must be why I'm not in the seafood business. That and the smell.

Pam and I wandered the streets for a while, and then went to our first scheduled stop, Nice Green Bo Restaurant. I had read that the place was one of the best Chinese restaurants in the city. In fact, all the tables sported the restaurant's great reviews under their glass tops.

We stayed away from the more exotic things on the menu like the jelly fish and, "Wine Chicken's Feet." Pam ordered a noodle soup and I got the sesame chicken. I asked our waiter if I could get brown rice. He said something that sounded like, "(something, something) rice," which I took to mean, "we don't serve brown rice," so I said, "Oh, okay. White rice is fine." My meal came with no rice. Guess I read that one wrong.

I had heard great things about the Nice Green Bo's "soup dumplings," so I made sure to order some. They were called, "steamed tiny buns" on the menu. (Insert joke here) I must say, they were awesome!

Steamed tiny buns!

When they first arrived at the table they were piping hot, and with each bite boiling hot broth would spill out into our mouths. It was literally a taste explosion! After they cooled off a bit, they were delicious. I'd definitely recommend checking the restaurant out for the dumplings alone!

Our next stop was directly across the street at the Chinatown Ice Cream Factory. Pam and I were on a quest for good ice cream and the CICF is supposed to have some of the best in town.

I was intruiged by the fact that the list of flavors had things like durian, ginger, green tea, and lychee, but then it had a separate catagory called, "exotic flavors" such as strawberry, vanilla, and chocolate. One of the shop's regular flavors was something called, "pandan." Pam and I jokingly referred to it just as "panda." I asked the woman who was serving us what pandan was. She said, "it's a green leaf that people use in Malasia in desserts." Almost two seconds after I asked her, I notice that underneath the flavor name in the display it read, "Pandan: a green leaf used in Malaysian desserts." I my face red?

I ordered a cone of chocolate pandan ice cream, partially out of embarressment, and partially because I wanted to be able to say that I eat pandas. And hey, if you're offered the opportunity to order pandan flavored ice cream, you have to take it, right? I can report that the ice cream was delicious. And for those wondering, panda(n) tastes kind of minty.

After the ice cream, Pam and I further explored the neighborhood. We saw a couple of interesting sights...

Roasted Aliens

This must be where they make "White Diamonds."

A Christmas present for my mother.

The ant show is in town!

A golden Chuck E. Cheese

Everwhere we walked, people would come up to us and secretively try to sell us "designer" handbags. "Gucci! Prada!" They would hiss. One guy just showed us a piece of paper with pictures of purses on it. It made Pam and I wonder why the hush hush? It was as if the people were trying to sell us heroin! Purses must be contraband south of Canal Street.

After walking around for a while, we stopped into the Kam Man market on Canal St. We had a lot of fun looking at all the interesting food and knick knacks the place had for sale. For example:

Preserved duck eggs. Now lead free!

Dried fungus

All kinds of tea! These pictured here are "pearls." They had fantastic names like, "Juliet's Kiss," "Lover's Blossom," and, "Gunpowder Green Tea."

Massage the kitchen appliance section

I came really close to buying a mug with "lucky cats" all over it, but I chickened out after I saw a sticker on a bowl mentioning lead paint. I'd have better luck with those duck eggs.

Shortly after we left Kam Man, Pam and I left Chinatown. I can't believe I waited this long to visit this exotic and colorful neighborhood. I had a great time and I plan on making many future trips for steamed tiny buns and panda ice cream.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

The Bowery

According to Wikipedia, The Bowery area of New York is bordered by East 4th Street and the East Village to the north, Canal Street and Chinatown to the South, Allen Street and the Lower East Side to the east and Bowery (the street) and Little Italy to the west. The area gets its name from the street, the Bowery. In the 1600's, when New York was New Amsterdam, the Bowery was the lane that ran to the farm of Peter Stuyvesant, the Director-General of the colony. In fact, the word, "bowery" comes from the Dutch word, "bouwerij," which means farm.

The Bowery has gone through many changes over the years. After its beginnings as a farm lane, it transformed into a fashionable and elegant thoroughfare in the 1700's, to a red light district in the 1800's, to NYC's "skid row" in the 1900's. The neighborhood's latter incarnations are the ones that gave it its reputation. As author Luc Sante wrote,"..until fairly recently the Bowery always possessed the greatest number of groggeries, flophouses, clip joints, brothels, fire sales, rigged auctions, pawnbrokers, dime museums, shooting galleries, dime-a-dance establishments, fortune-telling agencies, lottery agencies, thieves' markets, and tattoo parlors, as well as theaters of the second, third, fifth and tenth rank. It is also a fact that the Bowery is the only major thoroughfare in New York never to have had a single church built upon it."

Another interesting fact for you: according to Forgotten NY, "The expressions 'on the wagon' and 'off the wagon' had their origins on the Bowery where Evangeline Booth (whose father founded the Salvation Army), used to send a horse-drawn wagon onto the thoroughfare to pick up drunks and bring them to an Army facility where they could dry out and hopefully put their lives together."

Nowadays the neighborhood is much less sketchy. Luxury apartments, upscale restaurants and bars, and even a Whole Foods supermarket have replaced the flophouses (although a few do remain), the saloons, the brothels, and the fighting rings. However, the neighborhood does retain some of its past flavor as I would find out.

My first stop of the evening was the Lobby Bar in The Bowery Hotel. I was quite impressed with the place. The doormen were dressed in white pants, red coats and vests, and black bowler hats. The clientele were very well to do business people. (I had to wonder, if you were a millionaire, why would you stay at a hotel on the Bowery?) The lobby itself was all dark wood, Persian rugs, old paintings, old books, and old (looking) furniture. This was certainly the kind of ambiance I wanted for a trip to the Bowery.

After a few minutes, my fellow NYC adventurers, and guest stars for the evening, The Bowery Boys arrived together.

Hey, it's the Bowery Boys!

If you're not familiar with the boys, they are Tom Meyers and Greg Young and they do a fantastic weekly podcast about NYC history. I really recommend you check it out. I'm a subscriber and a big fan. I thought it would be fun to meet up with them while I was in their 'hood. Luckily for me, they agreed.

We took a seat at the bar and ordered a round. Tom and I asked the bartender if they had any special cocktails. The bartender told us they had a Bowery Hotel cocktail that was made of (I'm working from memory here) vermouth, brown sugar, bitters, and champagne. "That is special!" I said, and ordered a glass of wine. We weren't allowed to take our drinks to the lobby as it was reserved for hotel guests only, so we stayed in the antler-decorated bar area.

I had a great time talking to the boys. Both of them are walking encyclopedias of New York City history and they had some fascinating stories to tell. Greg had even brought along some print outs of Bowery stories from their site to give to me! I was quite impressed. We also chatted about Broadway (Greg used to be a theater critic), traveling (Tom runs a travel website,, and the work it takes them to put together a weekly podcast. Truly they are better men than I.

After we finished our drinks, we left the ornate hotel and the boys walked me down the Bowery, pointing out sites of interest. We passed the former location of CBGB's. Now part of the building that was the old punk rock club is an art gallery. As if to remind everyone of the place's past glory, the old CBGB logo had been painted on a wall inside.

Country, Blue Grass and Basquiat?

Another interesting historic site that Greg pointed out was the building where McGurk's Suicide Hall once stood. McGurk's was a dive bar where prostitutes would try to meet Johns. It was apparently the lowest dive of the dives and in the year 1899, six prostitutes commited suicide there by either using carbolic acid or a jumping from the 5th story. In a rather morbid PR attempt, McGurk renamed his bar, "Suicide Hall," to capitalize on the attention the deaths had caused. In 2005, the building was torn down and in its place a very modern condominium complex was built. If that doesn't have "haunted house" written all over it, I don't know what does.

As we walked further down the road, we came upon The New Museum. (That's an oxymoron, isn't it?) Actually, we were at the new location of the New Museum, so, in fact, we were at the New New Museum. The New Museum is dedicated to contemporary art and according to their website is the, "first art museum ever constructed from the ground up in downtown Manhattan." They were allowing people in for free and it seemed like a great opportunity to get some culture in, so I decided to check it out.

It was here that I parted ways with the boys. I said a sad goodbye and took the elevator up to the fifth floor and made my way down the museum. I wish I could say that I liked or even understood the works the museum had on exhibit. The first floor I entered had balls of clothing lying about that had been tied up with bungee cords, key rings hooked on the walls, and other odd assortments. It was then that I remembered Tom's last words to me, "Try not to laugh too much."

One of the art installations was, I swear to God, a large cardboard box and some plastic sheeting. I wanted to ask the security guards how they felt watching over something that you would pass by on the street. It was like an "art exhibit" that you would see in a bad sitcom where the dad has been dragged away from the game by his shrewish and far too attractive wife. I could almost hear Tim Allen crying, "You call this ART?"

As I left one of the floors, I accidentally used the emergency exit instead of the real one. (I was a bit tipsy from my drinks at the Lobby Bar.) A loud alarm sounded and I pulled the door closed, smiling apologetically. A man to my right turned to his date and said to her, "Did you do that?" Then he saw me and said, "Oh. I thought that was part of the exhibit." And there was my cue to leave.

As I exited the museum, I noticed that right next to it was The Sunshine Hotel, one of the few remaining flophouses left on the Bowery. It seemed weird that a place where you could get a room for $4.50 a night with a bed, locker, bare bulb, and chicken wire ceiling would be right next door to a place where a similar set up could be considered an installation.

My next stop of the night was Freeman's, a restaurant I had heard good things about. Well, I'd heard good things about their mac & cheese. Freeman's is located off Rivington at the end of an alley. In other words, it literally had the back alley, Boweryesque vibe I was looking for. To say that it was packed would be a huge understatement. Every hipster in a mile radius was there trying to get a table. I just wanted to make my way to the bar, but after 15 minutes of trying I gave up. As awesome as the place (and its mac & cheese) may have been, I wasn't going to fight someone for a drink. I will have to come back some day, when the horde isn't quite so large.

After I left Freeman's I wandered the neighborhood a bit. There were lots of interesting examples of street art to see. Like this...

And this...

A little less conversation, a little more action, please.

After a little while, I walked back up the Bowery, grabbed a slice of pizza, and headed home. Maybe it was because I had spent a good part of the evening with The Bowery Boys learning about the area's history, but more than any other neighborhood I'd been to, I could feel the ghosts of its past. It reminded me of something Neil Gaiman once wrote, "If a city has a personality, maybe it also has a soul. Maybe it dreams." Maybe that night the Bowery was dreaming of its once dark and violent glory. Then again, maybe I should stop after one glass of wine.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Battery Park City

When I was first doing research into Battery Park City, I stopped by the Battery Park City Authority site. I was surprised to see this as the first image on the page...

I wasn't sure if this was a good sign for my trip. It reminded me of the travel posters that hang in the New Zealand consulate in Flight of The Conchords. ("New Zealand - Don't expect too much. You will love it.")  Nevertheless, I was determined to explore this mini city on the Hudson.  

Battery Park City is named for neighboring Battery Park, although it doesn't really have much to do with the place. Where Battery Park has been around since 1623 (in its earliest incarnation as the park by the Dutch Fort Amsterdam), Battery Park City was built in the late 1970's and through the 1980's. The land on which it stands was excavated from dirt and rocks from the contsruction of the nearby World Trade Center. As I discovered on Wikipedia...

By the late 1950s, the once prosperous port area of downtown Manhattan was occupied by a number of dilapidated shipping piers, casualties of the rise of air transport. The initial proposal to reclaim this area through landfill was offered in the early 1960s by private firms and supported by the Mayor... in 1966 the governor unveiled the proposal for what would become Battery Park City. The creation of architect Wallace K Harrison, the proposal called for a 'comprehensive community' consisting of housing, social infrastructure and light industry.

After 9/11, more than half the area's residents moved away due to toxic dust, smoke, and debris from the adjacent Ground Zero. Temporarily reduced rents and government subsidies helped to keep the neighborhood alive. In fact, when I was first looking for an apartment in New York, I contemplated applying for a subsidy to move to BPC. I didn't go through with it in the end as the paperwork scared me.

Now Battery Park City is relatively back to normal and rents are set to go up in 2009. I know this because my friends, Gene and Kate, have lived here for almost 3 years and may have to move when the rents go back to their true market value. But more on them later.

I started my BPC adventure at the Irish Hunger Memorial on the corner of Vesey St. & North End Ave. It is a monument to those who died during the Irish Potato famine, and "is a symbol to highlight areas of the world affected by hunger today." As you look at the memorial from the east side, it looks like a grassy hill, with the ruin of a cottage (actually brought over from County Mayo) at the top. If you walk around the memorial, you see that the hill is, in fact, hollow and you can enter into it, and turn up into the garden. Apparently, the doors close at dusk and so I didn't get to go inside. I could hear a recording playing with Irish voices (probably Bono's) talking about world hunger through the gate. Suddenly, the song, "Do They Know It's Christmas (Feed the World)," came on. I looked down at the half of a turkey sandwich in my bag that would probably go uneaten and I felt pretty guilty.

I turned on to the Esplanade and walked south towards my first stop for the night. I have to say, the view was just gorgeous even if it was cloudy.

The sun sets over Jersey City

I stopped in the Winter Garden, which is kind of a mall/performance space/office building. The final competition in Mad Hot Ballroom took place here. I walked into the main atrium and was startled to see huge palm trees! In New York! Lots of people were hanging out on benches underneath the trees. What a great place to have a coffee!

I left the Winter Garden and walked further down the esplanade, passing tons of joggers, dog walkers and dog joggers. There were some neat sights along the walk. Like this place...

It's kind of hard to tell from the picture, but all the surfaces were covered in mosaic tiles. It seemed like something out of a Dr. Seuss story: very colorful and unexpected.

There was this viewing tower...

And the sweetest, happiest, most innocent looking snowman I ever saw in front of...

...a holocaust museum?

I finally made it to the bottom of the esplanade and walked over to my first stop, The Ritz-Carlton, Battery Park. I had heard that there was a bar called Rise in the hotel that had amazing views of the harbor. I walked into the bar around 6pm only to find that it was standing room only. I was a little worried about how much a drink would cost so I thought I'd be safe and order a glass of Chardonnay. Let me give you a tip: if you are in a fancy hotel - like the Ritz -and you're looking to get a relatively inexpensive glass of chardonnay, don't ask the bartender which brand he recommends. I ended up spending $27 on one. glass. of. wine.

The view was pretty spectacular though. The bar was small, but it had a terrece that opens in warmer weather that must double its size. I tried to get a picture of the view from inside the bar. This was the best I could do without a flash (that would bounce off the windows)...

The green blob in the middle is the Statue of Liberty.

I finished my glass of unicorn blood-I mean, wine, and got up to leave. There was now a long line of people waiting to get in. I stopped in Rise's "Chocolate Bar" down the hall (something the bar was doing every weekend in February). There was a replica of the Brooklyn Bridge made out of chocolate. Across the bridge was a spread of chocolate desserts. I had to leave before I devoured it like a chocolate-crazed godzilla.

I suspect the papers underneath are loan applications.

I walked back up the esplanade to meet my friends, Gene and Kate, at the restaurant, Steamer's Landing. Gene said that the restaurant had good food and great views. (More great views!) Gene also mentioned that 30 Rock shot part of its Cleveland episode here. "It was ridiculous. You could see the Colgate Clock in the background!" Gene cried.

The food was quite good. I ordered the "Pan Roasted Bell & Evans French Chicken Breast". It was a really yummy chicken breast atop 4 polenta triangles with a creamy, roasted garlic sauce. Gene got the Seafood Stew (which looked like it could have fed all of us) and Kate got the crab cakes.

The view was the best part of the place. (Have I mentioned the view?) It was so great that when I was writing this I actually I had to go back to Steamer's Landing's website to remember what restaurant itself looked like. Wherever you sat, you looked right out over the river. With that, the dim lighting, and the hushed conversation I could imagine this as the perfect location for a romantic dinner. Too bad Gene and Kate are taken.

After dinner, Gene and Kate showed me a few more sites including a part of the Berlin Wall!

Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this section of wall!

I had a great time in Battery Park City. Who knew? I definitely plan to come back for future visits. I'll have to take out a mortgage, though, before I return to the Ritz.