Restaurant Row, West 46th

NYC Restaurant Week Winter 2017 kicked off Monday, January 24th which means that for the next two weeks hundreds of restaurants across New York City will be offering special three-course menus for lunch and dinner that won't break the bank.
More than 375 restaurants will participate in the bi-annual dining promotion which will end on February 10.   Barbette on West 46th  is among the many restaurants offering great deals during NYC Restaurant Week.

Located in the heart of the Theatre District, this one-block stretch of 46th Street between Eighth and Ninth Avenues is jam-packed with distinctive restaurants serving cuisines from all over the world. This block, a short walk from the neon lights and crushing crowds of Times Square, boasts around 35 restaurants, serving up a wide range of cuisines from all over the world: American (New), American (Traditional), Asian Fusion, Brazilian, Breakfast, Brunch, Burgers, Cajun/Creole, Chinese, French, Irish, Italian, Japanese, Latin American, Middle Eastern, Pizza, Russian, Seafood, Soul Food, Spanish/Basque, Sushi Bars, Tapas Bars, Thai, Turkish, Vegetarian and Vietnamese, including Italian, French, Japanese and Thai.

In 1973, the then-mayor of New York City, John Lindsay, dedicated the strip of West 46th Street between 8th and 9th avenues as "Restaurant Row." "Where else in the world, except possibly Paris, could you get 16 of the best restaurants collected in such a short strip of land?" Mayor John Lindsay said at the dedication. Yes- forty years ago there were only 16restaurants on West 46th  and today the number more than doubled.

The oldest restaurant in this row  is Barbette, having celebrated its 100th Anniversary in 2006.  Barbetta is the oldest restaurant in New York that is still owned by the family that founded it.  Barbetta is also the oldest Italian restaurant in New York, and the oldest restaurant in New York's Theatre District.
Barbetta features the cuisine of Piemonte, Italy's northwestern-most region, bordering on Switzerland and France. The restaurant is decorated with 18th century Piemontese antiques, most notable among these the great chandelier that hangs in the main dining room.

 “I had been exposed to the beauty of 18th century Italian interiors during different trips traveling through Italy as a child, and I decided to approach  the restaurant  like an art historian.”, said  Laura Maioglio, owner of Barbetta.
In 1963, Laura Maioglio had created a garden for open air dining   with century-old trees and flowering with the scented blooms of magnolia, wisteria, jasmine, oleander and gardenia. 

In recent years, Ms. Maioglio has restored the second floor of the 1874 and 1881 townhouses in which Barbetta is located, for use as private rooms. These four townhouses were purchased by her father  Sebastiano Maioglio from the Astor family who had built them. These rooms, with a private entrance from the street, are available for private parties from 4-100 persons.

Barbetta was the first restaurant in America to offer white truffles on a continuous and regular basis during the truffle season, maintaining its own truffle hunters and truffle hounds in Piemonte, Italy. The great white truffle dishes of Piemonte are served on a regular basis during the truffle season, from October to Christmas.  

"Don’t tell mama"  on the same block is a  is one-of-a-kind  nightlife mall with four individual spaces: a piano bar, a restaurant and 2 separate cabaret showrooms. It was  established in 1982 and now has shows 7 nights a week and Saturday and Sunday matinees as well. Named after a song in Cabaret, Don't Tell Mama is a true cabaret haunt. Piano Bar opens at 4:00pm daily for Happy Hour. At 5:00pm a pianist plays cocktail music until 9:00pm.

 "Joe Allen" is  the best bet on the strip if you want to catch sight of an off-duty star—go before or after the theater and you're bound to see any number of familiar New York showbiz faces. (Al Pacino, Rosie O'Donnell and Liam Neeson have been known to hang here.) Rosie O'Donnell likes the grilled chicken sandwich with spicy Cajun mayonnaise and grilled onions on ciabatta bread, while another regular, Al Pacino, prefers the endive and watercress salad with Roquefort cheese and walnut dressing.

Built in 2008 in the Honor and Tradition of Old New Orleans, "Bourbon Street Bar & Grille" is inspired by everything that makes the Crescent City and South Louisiana great.

"Sushi of Gari"   has the best sushi on Restaurant Row and is one of five locations in the city. Chef-owner Masatoshi Gari trained in his native Japan, and is known for his personally crated sauces for each piece. "Gari's Choice," or the chef-chosen Omakase selection, is a no-brainer choice for lunch or dinner.   Zagat rated Sushi of Gari   4.6 for the food- the highest rank of all 35 restaurants.

VIA 57 West , Tetrahedron

Douglas  Durst's   grandfather arrived from  Austria Hungary   penniless  and  eventually became a very successful real estate manager and developer founding the Durst Organization in 1915.  
In May 2010, Douglas Durst, former Vice President Al Gore, and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg officially opened the Bank of America Tower. It was the first high-rise commercial tower to receive LEED platinum rating in the United States. The same year Durst with his wife, Susanne, a native of Denmark visited the studio of a well known  architect Bjarke Ingels.  And  Durst  commissioned Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) to bring a new residential typology to Manhattan.

VIA 57 West  (625 West 57th Street ) was finished in 2016. According to The New York Times, the name was chosen "because the southbound West Side Highway slopes down as drivers enter the city, right at the spot where the building is situated.

The building is a hybrid between the European perimeter block and a traditional Manhattan high-rise. West 57th has a unique shape that combines the advantages of both: the compactness and efficiency of a courtyard building providing density, a sense of intimacy and security, with the airiness and the expansive views of a skyscraper.
The 800,000-square-foot  behemoth   with  709 units on the 32 stories   mainly has   rental studio and one-bedroom apartments. These types of developments are targeted toward young professionals making low six-figure salaries who aren’t quite ready to buy, Durst said.

  It likes  almost entirely self-contained Epcot-like mini-city.  Renters will rarely have to leave the building. It is  of Manhattan’s largest rental complexes, with a the 25,000-square-foot interior   central courtyard  which is inspired by the classic Copenhagen urban oasis and was  designed to look like a miniature Central Park.

There is also a 25-yard indoor swimming pool overlooking the Hudson River, a half-size basketball court, a gym, a golf simulator, a screening room, a nautically themed residents’ lounge and a nearly 300-car garage.
“We knew we had to build a special building in this location because we’re so visible both from the highway and from across the river,” said Jordan Barowitz, a spokesman for the Durst family. “We also had to make it really compelling to convince people to live this far west.”

 “My father doesn’t like people calling it a ‘pyramid,’ ” said  developer Alexander Durst, son of   Douglas Durst. “It’s a tetrahedron.”
 The renting price now is   $3,440 per month for a small one bedroom. If you have more money in your valet maybe you can afford   a four bedroom four bath  for $12,800

Second Avenue Subway

New York City's biggest expansion of the subway system in 50 years, Phase 1 of the Second Avenue Subway opened for service January 1, 2017. This is the first Phase  of the big Project.
The proposed full line would be 8.5 miles (13.7 km) long with 16 stations and a projected daily ridership of 560,000, costing more than $17 billion.

Almost a century ago  in   1920 Daniel L. Turner of the Public Service Commission published the “Proposed Comprehensive Rapid Transit System,” which included six new north-south lines and eight new cross town lines in Manhattan.  In   1929 The New York City  Board of Transportation proposed a Second Ave line from Houston Street to the Harlem River for a cost of $86M.
 Ten years later, after the shock and the aftershock of the Great Depression , the cost of the Second Ave subway tripled  and was  estimated to be $249M. But then  World War Two started and the project was frozen again.
In a decade  in 1949  the old project was revised and   the new line  was   estimated to cost $504M.

In 1968, as part of a “sweeping” $2.9 billion (or about $20 billion adjusted for inflation) citywide transit expansion plan, the MTA gave top priority to the Second Avenue project to relieve “enormous congestion” on the Lexington Avenue line.

Engineering plans and environmental reviews were completed in the mid-2000s, and in 2007 ground broke on the three-stop segment that opens ten years later,   January 1, 2017  with an inaugural New Year’s Eve ride by Governor Andrew Cuomo. It took ten years to build, and between delays and special contracts, costs skyrocketed to unseen heights.

 All major newspapers reacted to this   event:

Business Insider: It's pretty and shiny, and it's also the world's most expensive subway ever built on a per-mile basis: $4.45 billion for two miles

New York Post:
It really doesn’t matter whether the first three stations of the subway open in December or January, or February. What matters is that the pols still don’t have a plan to build the rest of the line, to ease the strain on our people-crushing transit system (...)But most of the project — the MTA doesn’t have a cost estimate yet — “will be funded in future capital programs,” the MTA says. That is, well after 2020 — meaning we won’t be getting another three stations for well more than a decade.

Wall Street Journal
“We always do a looking-back exercise to see could we have done something better, and we’re certainly doing that now,” said Mr. Prendergast, who has been MTA  chairman since 2013.
He declined to say if the $4 billion price tag on the first phase was too high, saying only, “You’re never going to hear me say I’m comfortable with a cost.”
Policy makers, transit advocates and researchers aren’t optimistic. The MTA estimates the second phase, an additional three stations, will cost $6 billion. The agency hasn’t broken ground on it yet or set a deadline.

I visited the new line several days ago.  It was in the middle of the weekday and the train was almost empty. The stations were  new and   clean. By the way  just  a day after the opening of the long-awaited Second Avenue Subway, the head of the city’s transit system  Tom   Prendergast  announced that he would be stepping down.

Bryant Park's Frozen Fountain

January 2017
Bryant Park is one of the most notable and most popular landmarks in midtown Manhattan . It is  located in the heart of New York  behind the New York Public Library’s main branch. In summer you can enjoy HBO's annual film festival, poetry readings and tai chi and yoga classes in the park.
December 2014
 And  the winter season  brings  ice-skating and a frozen fountain. The frozen fountain  in Bryant Park   has become a temporary tourist attraction as passers-by take photos.

City photographers have known for years the magic that that sub-freezing temperatures can work on flowing water, and have famously chronicled it with stunning photos.
 This fountain commemorates   Josephine Shaw Lowell, who founded the Charity Organization Society.
June 2015
Josephine Shaw was born   into a wealthy New England family in 1843. She lived   with her parents on   Staten Island . Her husband  was called into service during the American Civil War  and  died in  battle  less than a year after they were married.  

Josephine Lowell started her volunteer service at the beginning of the Civil War and, throughout the years, participated in and helped to found many charities. Later Josephine Shaw became  the  first female member of the New York State Board of Charities, serving from 1876 to 1889.

February 2016
Architect Charles A. Platt   designed  this  granite ornamental fountain  and installed it  at the east side of the park in 1913. In 1936 the fountain was moved to the west side of the park.

March 2015
In 2009 the fountain was winterized with the installation of an internal electric heating system, enabling it to be left on in subzero temperatures and gather icicles. The fountain has been specially outfitted with heaters that  keep  things just warm enough inside to prevent damage to the pipes, but allows the beautiful ice crystals to form on the outside.

When the temperatures drop below 30 degrees, the water spilling over the edge of the fountain begins to crystallize.
The fountain is switched off during extended cold spells to prevent enough ice gathering to cause structural damage.

The statue of Liberty at East 61st

East 61 street. Statue of Liberty
The statue’s fame has led to it being copied on myriad occasions.  Kitsch tourist souvenirs   could be found at every  souvenir store in New York.   A  30ft replica  resides in the Brooklyn Museum.   

There is one copy that stands  near the building  at East 61 that  almost nobody know about.  

The story began  in  1920s  when  Max Stern emigrated     from Weimar Germany to the U.S.  His   textile business became  unprofitable  and Max decided to   go to U.S.   In order to earn  money he brought 2,100 canaries from Germany to sell on the U.S. market. Next   thirty years   Max had  been selling caged birds, bird cages and other pet bird supplies to U.S. through Woolworth's stores. Stern named his family business   Hartz Mountain Corporation (HMC)  after the Harz Mountains of Germany.

Later Max   became the   vice-chairman of the board of trustees of Yeshiva University for whom its Stern College for Women was named.

 His son Leonard  initial wealth was inherited from his father who died in 1982. Leonard  Stern is listed by Forbes magazine as a billionaire  and New York University's business school is named after him. In 2011 Leonard has acquired a rare 9-foot-tall scale-model replica of the Statue of Liberty.

Musée des Arts et Métiers
The Statue of Liberty's French creator, Frederic-Auguste Bartholdi, started his work with a plaster sculpture.  This plaster sculpture,  the original model of the Statue of Liberty,  is in   the The Musée des Arts et Métiers,    an industrial design museum in Paris. Among the museum  collection is an original version of the Foucault pendulum, by Auguste Bartholdi, some of the first airplanes  and the first mechanical calculator by Blaise Pascal.

 For more than 100 years, the original Statue of Liberty plaster sculpture could not be reproduced for fear that it would be damaged in the process. A new digital imaging process was developed without damaging the original. The statue was recast using the classic lost wax method.  Leonard   Stern, the owner of  the replica, says it's the only model in  in the United States. Only 12 bronzes are being made.   The other bronze copy the on view in the   Musée des Arts et Métiers,  

 This replica cost more than $1M US, and was installed in New York in October 2011.