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From Heaven to Hell's Kitchen



September is a beautiful month to visit New York City and a two day visit is just the ticket when you need a little change of pace. I scheduled our visit at the perfect time (sarcasm), not only is the entire UN Assembly in session, the Pope is visiting and so is the President. Beside politics, the news has ongoing coverage of the Popes visit to New York. Reporters are informing the city and its visitors which streets will be closed and where there will be access to main roads leading in and out of New York. The areas where and when the Pope and the Popemobile will be arriving, how many speeches he will be making in English and that he will be addressing climate change and immigration at the United Nations are also being announced. Thousands of people are in New York to see and hear Pope Francis and experience a little bit of heaven for themselves. The Secret Service and black Escalades are everywhere. It's quite the experience. The weather is perfect, the sun is shining, leaves just starting to change color. The glorious weather motivates us to walk from 47th and Broadway to the High Line on 34th Street. The High Line is a park that was built on a historic freight rail line on the West side and runs from Gansevoort Street (in the meat-packing district) to West 34th Street between 10th and 12th Avenues, a definite must if you are visiting New York City. We make our way to Gansevoort Street and walk through Chelsea Market where we stop at The Filling Station and pick up some unique balsamic vinegar and salt. There is quite a selection to choose from and it is very difficult to make a choice. We sample several salts and decide on a White Truffle and an Expresso. Next, I try the vinegar. Again from such a large variety, the two favorites : Cinnamon Pear and a Coconut White Balsamic. The Filling Station also has a nice selection of olive oil and beer. Since we are walking and have to carry our purchases, this is about as heavy as I care to carry. As we make our way through the markets, we are enticed by an Italian restaurant in a converted warehouse. All the pasta is homemade and delicious. Beside enjoying the dining experience on the premises at Giovanni Rana Pastificio & Cucina, you can purchase homemade pasta to take home and cook yourself. The menu is unique and has many delicious options. We share the Paccheri Puttanesca with Preserved Sicilian Tuna as well as the Reginette Expresso Braised Short Ribs Porcini. The walk back to the hotel will work off some of the fare.


We take in the bright lights of Times Square, pick up some pastry and ice cream for dessert and rest up for tomorrow's jaunt: A Walking Tour of Hell's Kitchen. We are to meet our guide at the Washington Jefferson Hotel at 9:20 a.m. Tour starts at 9:30 sharp. Our guide arrives at 9:45...but who's counting?! (My Swiss sense of timing) The boundaries of Hell's Kitchen run from 34th to 57th Streets and between 8th and 12th Avenues. There is quite a bit of history here from its early days when the Indians occupied the land to when the Irish came and Hell's Kitchen really got its name, to the many famous people who lived here. The architecture is a blend of old and new and many buildings have a story of their own. Our first stop is Studio 54, a popular New York nightclub in the late 1970's to the early 1980's. Regulars to the club were Elton John, Truman Capote, Woody Allen, Michael Jackson and so many more. Steve Rubell was the owner at the time and chose to guard the door himself; In other words, he was his own bouncer. He would choose who he would allow to enter the club. He wanted the perfect combo of black and white, gay and straight and lots of glamour. He called it "mixing the salad". If he didn't want you to come in, he would tell you that "you are too ugly" and send you away. It was the most famous nightclub in the world and played a huge role in the growth of disco and nightclub culture at the time. Hearst Tower, located on 57th Street and 8th Avenue, home of Good Housekeeping, Harper's Bazaar, Esquire and many other publications, is our next stop. Completed in 1928, this six-story building is most interesting in design. It was originally built to be the base of a skyscraper but when the stock market crashed ( The Great Depression), construction came to a halt and was completed nearly eighty years later. The uncommon "diagrid" (triangular pattern) was inspired by the design on the concrete embellishments on the original structure. Much thought went into the functionality as well. This is the first "Green" high rise building in New York City. It was designed to use 26 % less energy than the minimum requirements for the city of New York, 85% of the buildings structural steel contains recycled material. The lobby atrium is paved with heat conductive limestone, tubing is embedded in the floor and filled with circulating water for cooling in summer and heating in winter. I was so impressed with how much thought went into this building. They have a complete laboratory on one floor to do the testing for the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval. If you have an interest go to hearst.com for more information on this amazing landmark. This tour is chock full of hidden gems. Rudy's Bar & Grill is a pub..actually it is a dive bar where you can still get a pitcher of beer for $7.00 and a free hot dog. The interior is authentic and duct- taped together here and there. The bar is located between 44th and 45th Streets and 9th avenue. Al Capones old haunt and a favorite of many celebrities over the years; Frank Sinatra and Ava Gardner frequented the place, as well as, Drew Barrymore, who was asked to leave and come back when she was legal. This place received the first liquor license when prohibition ended in 1933. They are known for cheap drinks and free hot dogs; Anthony Bourdain has even eaten a few of them. Baron, their six foot mascot (stolen twice and returned) is now bolted to the building. Across the street is Mickey Spillanes Hell's Kitchen, another Irish bar. Mickey Spillane, Irish, American, "last of the gentlemen gangsters" (so named for giving roses to the widows of the men they murdered), leader of the Irish gang, The Westies. Gang members (called gophers, for obvious reasons) would have their meetings in the basements under those metal doors on the sidewalks of New York and when people walked by they would pop up, pull the person in and "shake them down". After taking everything they had they would release them and wait for the next victim. As time went on there were death threats to Mickeys life. He moved to Queens to protect his family where he was later shot and killed, The bar is still owned by the family and up until two years ago, Mickeys mother ate a free lunch at the corner table every day until she passed away. At a gang fight in front in the bar, over a bloody body, someone made the statement "this is hell" and a cop was noted as saying " this is worse, it's Hell's Kitchen" . A news reporter was there and the rest is history. Now, on to a very popular Jazz club called Birdland, named in honor of Charlie "bird" Parker. If you were on West 44th Street, you possibly could have run into some great musicians coming out of Birdland, a recording studio back in the day. . Many artists recorded here including Cindy Lauper, Ella Fitzgerald, Dizzy Gillespie, John Lennon and an endless list of other greats. In fact, this is where John Lennon spent his last day; doing what he loved. When he was finished recording that day, he got in a cab which took him home to the Dakota where he was shot and killed. Imagine.....



Posted by Linda Fluckiger 06:11 Archived in USA Tagged market the in kitchen new york nyc high station hells pope line chelsea filling

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