As a fundraiser for the Les Turner ALS Foundation, at the end of last month, 56-year old Doug McConnell swam a 28.5 mile trip around Manhattan Island. Completing the “triple crown” of open water swimming, this follows McConnell’s success over the last few years such as his 2011 English Channel swim and his Catalina Channel swim the year later.
In 2006 McConnell’s father died from ALS, spurring his son Doug to raise money for research into the disease. This year is particularly significant for ALS since July 4th marked the 75th anniversary of the infamous Lou Gehrig’s ‘Luckiest Man’ speech, delivered at the original Yankees stadium. Just short of two years later – at the young age of 37 – Lou Gehrig himself passed away from the disease.
McConnell’s father himself was very athletic, having been a vet working with dairy cattle. To witness his strength ebb away so quickly, was very difficult for Doug. It was 12 years after his diagnosis that he finally succumbed to the disease entirely and passed away. Doug explains that swimming for charity became “away to make it feel a little bit less selfish, and add another facet or element to the whole thing. Frankly, it has added far more than I have ever bargained for.”
Manhattanville Coffee recently opened on 142nd Street and Edgecombe Avenue, Sugar Hill. Right by its namesake neighborhood – but not quite there – co-owners Rivka Sontag and Jack Gold claim that they “agonized over the name” for a while. Gold explains why they eventually went with it though: “’Manhattan’ tells the story of sophistication and ‘ville’ tells the story of a small hometown. The name could work in any city.”
Anyway the café is doing well, perhaps because of its location – Edgecombe – lacking such eateries. According to Gold, “the neighborhood was waiting for this.” It was a project that the couple – who have been working in commercial design business together for a while – fell in love with during a redesign. According to Gold, “it’s a chill intersection where the view is beautiful.” Because of how they felt about the place, they figured this would be a perfect place in which to work.
They worked hard on the building, uncovering a column they exposed and cleaned, having a local artist etch a gold leafing window sign, exposing the inside original brick walls.
For those who frequent the café, there are two comfortable leather couches in the front, marble countertops and more. Intelligentsia Coffee is served with small pastries. Summer popbar ice pops and winter soup will be seasonal. The goal behind the café is to make a place for “neighbors [to] get to know one another.” According to one satisfied customer, this has been a long time coming, as he said he has “been waiting for a café like this for 11 years.” Another customer said “it beats having another deli.”
Clearly Manhattanville – is suited more to this area, than, let’s say, Manhattanville!
For those looking for custom-made cocktails in the heart of Manhattan, Lantern’s Keep is a great spot. With its delightful ambiance, nestled in Shimmie Horn’s Iroquois Hotel, this tasteful bar brings together modern Manhattan with old fashioned traditions. Its philosophy is to figure out what techniques were used to make classic drinks survive through the ages and replicate the method.
In addition, the bar seeks to stick with what happened in the late 19th and early 20th centuries – whereby American hotel bars provided the environment for bartenders to develop their craft and offer customers “luxurious libations” not available in standard bars. Recalling this tradition, Lantern’s Keep uses top quality ingredients to develop unique concoctions prepared in classic style.
And if one is not so knowledgeable on what cocktail to order, all they have to do is choose a spirit and let the bartender surprise them!
One very high-tech way of brightening up a city is currently being used in midtown Manhattan. Large-scale NanoLumens-powered LED stock ticker have arrived and are making New York’s stock tickers look like vintage alarm clocks.
This full-color L-shaped LED measures three feet high and 60 feet wide, rendering it one of New York’s most unique displays. According to the brains behind the idea, Bill Shiverick (who also installed it), said,
“as far as stock tickers and information displays go, there’s nothing else like this being used in New York City. But now that we’ve shown what a unique NanoLumens DS display can do for the ambience of a retail environment, I doubt it will be the last… the truth is that the branch could have chosen a lower-cost alternative that may have served the purpose. But when we considered all the different variables and strengths of each manufacturer’s technology, NanoLumens was clearly the best choice. … I’ve worked in hundreds of office buildings and corporate headquarters in a dozen of the biggest U.S. cities over the last 11 years, and I’ve never seen anything like it.”
Now what remains to be seen is how the midtowners react to it. Hopefully, “blindingly!”
Manhattan’s landscape is set for somewhat of a construction transformation. With plans for 20 new buildings (17 of which are high-rises), according to journalist Verena Dobnik, this will be one of New York’s “most ambitious private real estate ventures since Rockefeller Center” was erected.
Completion of the building is set for 2024, and, along with the simultaneous project – the Manhattan West complex – will comprise over 22 million sq. ft., featuring around 6,000 residential units. This is being achieved through “a feat of engineering,” building enormous concrete platforms to enable buildings to soar above and around railroad tracks and rail yards. In addition, this will not have any impact on the approximately 70,000 individuals who daily use Amtrak and New Jersey Transit trains.
The first 52-story tower is due to open in 2015. Manhattan West will be erected between Ninth and Tenth, featuring three towers (including stores, garages, a public plaza and a hotel).
As our nation returns to its daily routine following Memorial Day weekend, it’s a great time to reflect on all of the gifts we have been given by the armed men and women who have fought on our behalf. All of the vibrant culture that we enjoy in the Big Apple, the wonderful attractions, parks, and landmarks, are all made possible by the sweat and tears of our armed forces. As we head back to the bustle of New York City living, let’s take a moment to salute those heroes that have sacrificed on our behalf.
Next time you’re out touring the city, and your eyes catch a glance of a United States flag, stop for a moment. Think about who made it possible for us to enjoy and take advantage of the treasures around us. We may take it for granted some of the time, but Memorial Day reminds us of these heroes.
This week sees the first commuter ferry travel on the Hudson River to Manhattan. Far West Side residents will be able to take advantage of this new mode of transport, that, until now, has not been available to the midtowners. In addition, tourists in the neighborhood – such as those staying at Shimmie Horn’s Iroquois Hotel – can benefit from the New York Water Taxi. These boats will transport people between the World Financial Center and West 44th Street, every quarter-of-an-hour during morning and evening commutes.
For those who catch the taxi the first week of travel mid-June, no payment is required. From the second week on however, a round trip will cost $8 with a discounted rate offered for frequent users.
This is the first Manhattan-to-Manhattan ferry service.
The ban that was set to go into effect a couple of weeks ago on large sugary drinks being served in New York restaurants, was overturn, at the eleventh hour. For anyone living – or vacationing – in New York this is likely to be welcome news. Even if one does not regularly consume a large soda, to be told they are not allowed to, is somewhat disconcerting.
Last year, the NY City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene decided to ban sugary drinks in containers larger than 16 ounces. But New York Supreme Court Judge Milton Tingling interceded at the eleventh hour, and ruled that this ban was “capricious” and “arbitrary.” He added that bans like these were beyond the scope of the Health Department and that it “would not only violate the separate of powers doctrine, it would eviscerate it.”
On May 31 and June 1, for those in the upper west side – perhaps vacationing in Shimmie Horn’s Belleclaire Hotel – the Columbus Avenue Business Improvement District is hosting the ‘New Taste of the Upper West Side.’
In its sixth year, this festival is set to benefit the Wellness in the Schools program at the O’Shea School complex and P.S. 87 and the Columbus Avenue Streetscape Project. The goal of the latter is to enhance the avenue between West 76th and West 77th streets. Approximately 1,500 people attend the event each night which is usually sold out. Every year those involved in the project try to improve it from the year before. Tickets are on sale for $105 for Friday night and $135 for Saturday or $250 for Saturday VIP tickets.
The west side of New York City is home to much culture, including upscale restaurants, recreational parks, theaters and more. For those who happen to be vacationing in the area, perhaps at Shimmie Horn’s Washington Jefferson Hotel, Marriott Downtown or Hilton Garden, it is probably worth checking the theater schedule ahead of time.
Previews have already started for the upcoming show ‘The Last Five Years,’ a two-character musical by Jason Robert Brown showing at the Second Stage Theater, West 43rd Street. Or, Broadhurst Theater at 235 West 44th Street is soon to be home to ‘Lucky Guy,’ set in the mid-80s in NYC with Mike McAlary and Nora Ephron. Whatever your taste in culture, New York City sure does have something for everyone.