Friday, April 24, 2009

Park Avenue in Bloom

Cherry Blossoms on Park Avenue

Dear Postcards from New York Reader,

A snowfall cluster of pink and white cherry blossoms, carried along by a gentle breeze, offers a colorful invitation to pull out those walking shoes. I'm in complete agreement with the late Kate Hepburn, I too am a "pavement girl at heart." This city is best explored on foot. It's spring! So, come experience the magic of New York’s many art and architectural treasures in this outdoor museum.

Here is a manageable midtown walk, not too strenuous for the elderly, and easy for parents pushing youngsters in strollers. It offers compelling architecture, interesting outdoor sculpture, beautiful churches and comfortable park-like sitting areas to stop and pause along the way. The walk will cover a distance of about twenty blocks, and depending on your pace, it can be done in less than an hour. So, let’s go.

Start at Park Avenue and 34th Street; If you have organized a group, Irving Marantz’s striking bronze Obelisk to Peace, in front of the rust-colored brick tower at 3 Park Avenue on the southeast corner, is a convenient location to meet.

Proceed on the east side of the street, north on Park Avenue; stop a moment in front of the tiny garden just before the entrance to Our Saviour Church on 38th Street. If it is not Sunday, take a quick look inside to gaze at the gold adorned Byzantine style icons around the altar illuminated by refracted light from magnificent stain glass windows. I recently took this walk with a friend and she insisted we sit a moment in this beautiful space to take it all in.

Continue up Park Avenue; cross to the west side of the street for a close look at the monumental sculpture "Interlooping Ovals" by Arthur Carter in front of 90 Park . As you pass 100 Park, the magnificent floral arrangements that embellish the lobby will not fail to capture your attention. Now look across the street as gurgling water erupts from a white marble volcano shaped fountain at 101 Park, it provides an interesting contrast to the soaring black glass building just beyond.

This was the former site of the Architects' Building, home to designers of many of this areas skyscrapers. If you look down you will find a series of bronze relief plaques by Gregg Le Fevre embedded in the pavement. Follow the path of plaques underfoot to discover a chronicle of 20th century architecture: The Seagram Building, Chanin, Citicorp, Lever House, Metropolitan Life, The French and Chrysler Buildings and many others.

At the corner of 41st and Park, glance to your left through the narrow street to see the Classical Revival Pediment of the New York Public Library on Fifth Avenue. Then, look ahead, directly in front of you overhead, and see the Pediment of Grand Central Station. See famous Mercury, the Greek messenger God as he steps on " time" the exquisite bronze and enamel clock by Tiffany. Now drop your eyes down the facade, there’s the larger than life statue of Cornelius Vanderbilt, the railroad magnet in a greatcoat, as he appears to direct the cars speeding across the bridge over 42nd Street.

42nd Street's a great place to pause to snap pictures, the flood of traffic and people, great buildings in a host of architectural styles, shop windows, and street vendors are sure to enliven your photos.

To be continued.

Jacqueline Cable

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Address to Remember: 3 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10016.

Directions: From Times Square MTA N, Q, R, W to 34th st, walk east to Park Ave.

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  • Photo by Jaime Wilson

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