Day 6. Exploring Harlem and Queens

Our guidebook indicated that a visit to Harlem’s 135th Street to view the historic houses on Shrivers Row was worth seeing.   The houses were indeed attractive, but to be honest there wasn’t very much else to see apart from the Apollo Theatre and The Cathedral of St John the Divine,  so we continued walking until we reached Morningside Heights, a district between the Upper West Side and Harlem,  the home of Columbia University founded in 1754. 

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Brownstone terraced houses of Haarlem

This was an affluent neighbourhood with some architectural gems so I would suggest missing out Harlem and heading straight here instead.  We explored the beautiful university campus with its grand old buildings standing proud overlooking neatly manicured lawns.
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Columbia University, New York City

Located nearby is the monumental neo-gothic Riverside Church that resembles a cathedral and overlooks the General Grant National Memorial, both are worthy of a visit.  Grant’s Tomb is maintained by the National Parks Service and admission to the elaborate memorial is free, located in a beautiful riverside setting.

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General Grant National Memorial, Morningside Heights
Another short subway journey took us to Columbus Circle where we looked round the Times Warner Centre which was filled with high end designer shops with a Whole Foods supermarket in the basement.    Just along the road lies the huge  Lincoln Centre, home to the New York Ballet, Philharmonic, Opera and several other performing arts theatres. 
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New York subway art

After a quick look around some of the modernist buildings we headed off to Grand Central Station’s lower level to eat.  I’d heard that Junior’s Cheesecakes were legendary and being very fond of this dessert we had to try one.  The cafe had both a takeaway counter and full service restaurant so we opted for the latter.  We ordered slices of our favourite New York style cheesecake along with drinks.   These arrived on paper plates, with plastic spoons and glasses – not what we were expecting at all!  Yes, the cheesecake was creamy with a deep filling but it wasn’t any nicer than the ones I buy at home from my local Waitrose, so I have to admit that Junior’s was a bit of a let down!   What was to follow wasn’t though……..

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Road sign
The two weeks before our trip were spent avidly reading guidebooks and New York travel blogs to help us to make the most of our stay.  One of the blogs that we found extremely interesting and informative was Finding NYC  and in a comment,  I’d indicated that we were visiting soon.  To my utter surprise we received an invitation to spend part of a day with the author, viewing NYC from the perspective of a local!   We felt unsure at first,  it’s a very different experience meeting bloggers in real life rather than through the safety of the virtual world and I’d never started blogging with the intention of ever meeting anyone in person.   But,  somehow,  this seemed like an opportunity not to be missed, so throwing caution to the wind,  it was agreed that we would meet outside the Court Square subway station in Long Island City, Queens at 3.00 pm   We all arrived promptly, and after greeting each other, we were taken to the Rockaway Brewing Company  a few blocks away.

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Rockaway Brewing Company
 In the intimate atmosphere of the cosy bar we were able to get to know each other and also learn a little about micro brewing techniques!  The beer tasted absolutely delicious, we were served ”taster flights’ of hand crafted beers, along with packets of Cape Cod kettle crisps. 
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Taster flights of beer at Rockaway Brewing Company

The small bar was very different to what we are accustomed to in the UK,  but we loved it, chatting to the bar manager,  our new blogging friend Susan and another local lady about everything from Downton Abbey to dogs.   In the intimate, cosy atmosphere we were really made to feel welcome!
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The iconic Pepsi Cola sign in Gantry Plaza State Park, Queens

Then it was off to watch the sun set on the waterfront in the nearby Gantry Plaza State Park  along with some amazing views of the midtown Manhattan skyline.  Susan pointed out the 37m long iconic Pepsi Cola sign that had been moved from a bottling plant to be preserved in the park along with some Long Island gantry cranes which were all very interesting to see.
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Long Island Gantry Cranes, Queens

The final part of our mini adventure was a subway ride to the Lower East Side and dinner at a little neighbourhood restaurant called  Pies ‘n Thighs serving southern comfort food.  We found a cosy corner table and feasted on sweet/savoury dishes of chicken with waffles, cranberries and maple syrup and a ‘chicken biscuit’ which was a chicken fillet in a scone, strange combinations but utterly delicious and extremely filling, it’s just as well we’ve been walking so much this week!  All this was such fun, our blogging friend was lovely and so kind to have taken the time to organise this three part treat for us, living the life of local New Yorkers for a few hours at least.  We parted, having hopefully made a friend for life,  and do so hope that we can return the favour one day soon by showing Susan and her travelling companion some of what England has to offer.

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Dinner at Pies ‘n Thighs
If you would like to read Susan’s version of events do take a look at her post ‘Dinner with new friends at Pies ‘n Thighs’ here.

 

Distance walked:  5.73 miles

 

 

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21 thoughts on “Day 6. Exploring Harlem and Queens

  1. aprilswopegreene

    Love that you journeyed to Queens on your trip to NYC! Next time you’re here, feel free to drop me a line—I’d love to recommend some other great outer-borough sights to see!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. It took me a minute to figure out why Pies n Thighs sounded familiar, until I discovered I follow Susan as well and read her post before this one. Oh, the blog world is a small one! What a cool experience. And chicken and waffles are a favorite of mine, but that’s probably the Southerner in me talking. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. What a great travel experience with Finding NYC! On our recent trip to New York, we went to the same Junior’s that you did, but they had run out of their traditional cheesecake. Imagine, that! A cheesecake shop running out of their signature dish!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I too met someone via my blog and she (and her husband) became my best friends and we’ve gone on European and America holidays together and talk every day.
    Glad you made friends in NYC….very handy for the future 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, sometimes you just have to seize the opportunity or live with regrets! It’s great that you have made such good friends through your blog and I’m certain I’ll meet up with my NYC friend again, too! Thanks for taking the time to read my post.

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  5. Another great day and exploring with a local sounds really great, a chance to see the real city!! We’ve been to Harlem on a Sunday morning tour where we also visited a church – quite a different experience!! We didn’t get to explore much but we did pass through Mornington Heights on the bus, sounds like a great place to walk around – next time!!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Wow, sounds amazing. So fun to have a New Yorker show you around 🙂 What a disappointment about Junior’s, a lady I talked to on my visit Cheesecake Factory raved about those cheesecakes. But plastic plates and spoons??? Terrible!

    Liked by 1 person

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