Working a UBM Fashion event called Women’s Marketplace at the Jacob Javits Convention Center and got off early for a change. (Early being 5pm – so early by trade show time!) Gives me time to check into my room at the New Yorker, make happy hour, grab a bite and do some neighborhood exploring!
The New Yorker
My first order of the evening is to check in and get familiar with the hotel. I’ve stayed at The New Yorker before, but that was 10 years ago, and it needed a restoration at the time. It has since been taken over by Wyndham and from what I read online, the restoration is going well. I am about to find out for myself.
The staff was friendly and helpful, from the bellman to the Desk Clerk. The entrance had that ‘grand hotel’ feel to it and the lobby was just spectacular. I felt like I was in a Turner Classic Movie and would run into Fred Astaire or Jean Kelly any minute.
For those of you unfamiliar, the New Yorker is an iconic hotel on *8th avenue at 34th street, just a block from Penn Station and Madison Square Garden. Built in 1930 it is a stately hotel build in the grand art deco fashion of that time and is very similar architecturally to the Empire State Building. It had its moment in the sun and it has a little history museum in the lower lobby that proves it. I love the history and the energy of both the neighborhood and the hotel.
My room was swell, in 1930’s vernacular– how else could I put it. Not tiny, like so many of the current crop of ‘boutique hotels’ and comfortable enough! It still possessed that old-world charm while being both clean and functional – which is to say the water pressure was fine, the hot water hot and all the drains drained. I knew I was going to enjoy my stay – especially when I realized all the elevators worked fine and there was nary a wait. The wait for the elevator is another problem in many of the newer hotels I have been staying in throughout the neighborhood and I was glad to put that annoyance behind me. Much more on the New Yorker at another time – but now I must make happy hour.
The Tailor Pub
I missed happy hour in the hotel bar, so I rushed out to an Irish pub I noticed on my way to the New Yorker. It’s a new place called The Tailor Pub – and I’m guessing Tailor is not the family name, but rather a nod to its garment district location. (Similar to Stitch, a more established garment district pub nearby.) I grabbed a martini at the crowded bar, just through the open doorways that let the 8th avenue ambiance inside – along with the beautiful breeze we were being treated to. While Absolut is not my favorite, it was $6 on the Happy Hour menu with a $2 martini up charge, so I indulged.
After sipping my potion enough to head off any spills of the valuable elixir, I headed up the stairs to explore. This is an impressive place, with a balcony overlooking the entrance where you can sit along the rail and watch the action. Walking to the back room through a gallery of mirrors – mirrors seeming to be a theme with the place – I came to a second upstairs bar where I found a seat and another martini – just before the clock ticked the end of happy hour. The upstairs is cavernous with plenty of seating – along with little nooks and corners for conversation and deal making. TV’s surrounded the room, so it is a great place to host a party or just to watch a game. I wasn’t much interested in the hockey game tonight, nor was I hungry yet – but the food I saw looked good with big pub style burgers and other Irish Pub fare. I’ll be back to check it out later in the week, I’m sure.
I’ve worked this neighborhood for more years than I want to admit to, so I’m putting my stamp on the rectangular area that encompasses 28th street to 41st Street, and 11th Avenue to to 8. and I am hereby proclaiming it Javitstown (I’m still considering Tommyville.) This skirts the northern edge of Chelsea, encompasses what is now known as Hudson Yards, goes into Hell’s Kitchen and finally enters the lower edge of midtown west and back thru the Garment District! This is the neighborhood I associate with my life and work at the Javits and I have watched over it for the last 20 years and watched it transform itself over the last 5 years. There was a time it was unsafe to walk the streets here after dark and the daytime wasn’t a whole lot safer. It was full of mysterious factories, horse stables and garment district sweat houses along with depressing residential buildings. many of them abandoned for good reason. Hookers roamed the streets in their underwear and high heels along with a stream of hustlers, vagabonds, run-of-the-mill criminals and drifters. If you weren’t armed you were in the minority – and in danger.
Then, suddenly, 9th Avenue became an ethnic food mecca, trendy if gritty! Houses started getting fixed up or knocked down. Glass and steel Highrise’s went up, local dive bars closed or became famous. Javits got a facelift! They extended the number 7 subway to 34th Street and finally, Hudson Yards took root. It been quite the decades of change and transformation – and that goes for both me and Javitstown!
Treated to a Sunset on 35th Street
I wandered out of the Tailor Pub with a comfortable buzz and a need to do some more exploring. It was a beautiful spring night with a light breeze a clear sky and a warmth that was just beginning to chill – just like me. I turned left on 35th heading to 9th – figuring I would get a taco at Diana, one of my go to Taco joints on 9th and 38th. They also make a mean margarita and since I wasn’t driving and was close to home – why not.
Just before I reached 9th however I looked up and realized the sun was setting right in front of me – lined up perfectly with 35th street and heading for the glass cupola that is the top of the Javits Center. (June 7, 2018, 8:08 pm for those of you that keep track of such things.) A sunset lined up perfectly with 35th and it was going to be a beauty as it hovered over the Javits Center for a bit before sinking below the roof of the Javits Crystal Palace, though still visible, due to the glass structure.
Blinded by the sun, I suddenly run into a friend who wonders what I’m up too. I point out the orange beauty just as it disappeared, and he nods and continues his trek to Penn Station. I Stop for a moment, take a breath and lean against a random police barricade. The city goes silent for a New York moment! Angry horns were that were hostile a moment ago cease and even the steps and conversation of the multitudes goes quiet for that magic moment of sunset. I am struck by a random moment of awe!
I suddenly realize I am alone and love it! Alone, I can do anything or nothing! Alone I am free. I love everyone! Is it the martinis or the sunset! Or has magic reared its lovely head!
So many dreams of a beautiful moment in the future get in the way of the beautiful moment I am having now!! It’s the time between moments that we must learn to savor!! The true adventure is now, here, never later! When will we learn that clearly and stop wishing this beautiful life away!!
Back to the now, should I eat a taco or a burger. Or nothing. Knowing I have a long arduous day ahead, I consider a sane decision – but only briefly. I head towards Diana’s and them lovely margaritas.
On the way to Diana I find a Thai Noodle bar with duck noodle soup on the menu and a 24-hour happy hour! The music coming through the propped open entrance and the open air style windows is nice and inviting and the place is crowded – a good sign in an unknown establishment! That’s the beauty of 9th Ave! There’s more places to eat here per square block than any other place in the city! Duck noodle soup is one of my holy grails – a dish I am always on the lookout for. I head in.
When I took my first taste, my eyes rolled back into my head. The waiter actually asked if I was okay. By far the best duck noodle soup I ever had. Flavored with cilantro and scallion and loaded with pieces of boneless duck and firm noodles, the flavor was sublime with a sweetness from the duck fat and who knows what else!
After the soup and a glass of wine – it’s time to head back to my temporary home! I walk the streets back and consider what a night I had. Beautiful.
Hang on 8th Ave at 34th for a click
I get to my hotel but have that familiar feeling of not wanting to end a beautiful evening. I hang outside with the smokers and people watch for a while. Some people would say that 42nd Street and 7th avenue is the center of NYC, but I say 8th avenue and 34th Street gives it a run for the money! Penn Station is right across the way and a good percentage of those exiting the trains or heading for them pass this spot. Macy’s is a block away and the old Post Office gives it an air of stature. The Hammerstein Ballroom is right around the corner and the most famous arena in the world is visible over the roof top bar. You can pretty much get anywhere in NYC from here – anywhere in the world for that matter.
Reluctantly I say good night to the night and head up!