Susan's Blog - New York City Christmas 2014 (Day 3)

The morning of the third day, we succeeded in getting our bagel! We had done the investigation (yea, you know we always do our investigations) and found that this is listed as one of the best bagel places in Midtown ... Ess-a-Bagel. Today the line was still weaving through the store but at least it was not outside and down the sidewalk. It had this really nice white, hammered-metal ceiling and was somewhat packed. The line weaved around and we finally got up to the front where we got to order our bagel with cream cheese.

We got a really nice view of the Brooklyn Bridge as we headed down towards Lower Manhattan.

We ended up down near the World Trade Center site, and this is St Pauls Chapel. Trivia: it is the oldest surviving church building in Manhattan and, when it was completed in 1766, it was the tallest building in New York City. I'll have more on this Chapel in tomorrow's blog.

These are pictures of one of the new towers at the World Trade Center, and you can see (again) how low the cloud cover was since you can't actually see the top. They are building the World Trade Center Transportation Hub here, and (personally), I think it is somewhat ugly so far. Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava, designer of the station, said the above-ground structure (called the Oculus) resembles a bird being released from a child's hand. So far, it looks like a lopsided white, rusting "thing" :-)

Lunch was a french bistro on John Street called Les Halles. Inside it was very typical of a French bistro, with hammered tin roof, dark wood, and mirrors. We split a bowl of french onion soup and then both had a croque madame, which is a toasted ham and cheese sandwich with a sunny-side up egg on top.

This afternoon, we took a 2-hour walking tour of Immigrant New York, given by Big Onion Tours ( The tour explores the experiences of the different immigrant and ethnic populations living in the Lower East Side from the early 19th century through today. We started at City Hall Park, near the Brooklyn Bridge.

Emigrant Savings Bank is the oldest savings bank in New York City and the ninth-largest privately owned bank in the country. The bank was founded in 1850 by 18 members of the Irish Emigrant Society with the goal of serving the needs of the immigrant community in New York. As our guide mentioned to us, immigrants tended to like to bank with others from their home country, and so the Irish community would have banked here. The bank collected extensive records of the arriving Irish immigrants to America, which were later donated to the New York Public Library and serve as valuable genealogical resources.

Nearby is the Manhattan Municipal Building, which reminds me of a huge, soviet-bloc building. It was built to accommodate increased governmental space demands after the 1898 consolidation of the city's five boroughs. Enormously influential in the civic construction of other American cities, its application of Beaux-Arts architecture served as the prototype for the Terminal Tower in Cleveland, and the Wrigley Building in Chicago, in addition to the Seven Sisters of Stalin-era Soviet architecture. One of the largest government buildings in the world, it tops out at 580 feet tall.

If you watch Law and Order, you'll recognize this building as the court that Jack McCoy and the ADAs go up and down during the show. It is the New York State Supreme Court Building. The granite-faced hexagonal building was designed by Guy Lowell of Boston in classical Roman style and was built between 1913 and 1927 (delayed by World War I). The building's mass and scale give it the appearance of a temple. A broad set of steps sweeps up to a massive Corinthian colonnade covering most of the front of the courthouse. It is topped by an elaborate 140-foot-long triangular pediment of thirteen figures carved in bas relief from granite. The pediment includes three statues: "Law", "Truth" and "Equity". A frieze bears the inscription "The True Administration of Justice is the Firmest Pillar of Good Government", a 1789 quotation attributed to George Washington.

We then headed down into Chinatown and she mentioned that many of the buildings in the various immigrant areas have interesting friezes on the facade, which I found in this building.

As we entered Chinatown, we saw this large statue of Confucius. We went by a school and she was talking about how important these communities are for the people coming into the city, as you can be around people who have similar cultures and backgrounds. There are many different organizations that assist those coming into the country with various things. The school, she mentioned, was very interesting because it ends up trying to teach English to small kids who all speak different dialects of Chinese, which we now totally understand after living in China for 3 years.

While this looks like yet another church, it is actually a synagogue. The Eldridge Street Synagogue was built in 1887 and is one of the first synagogues built in the US by Eastern European Jews (Ashkenazis). The Moorish Revival building incorporates many Jewish elements. She mentioned a bunch of these (although I forget most of them) but they included something about the 5 windows below the large round one, and then the two windows/arches on each side, the numbers all having significance.

Another Jewish building, this is the Jewish Daily Forward building. The publication itself began in 1897 as a Yiddish-language daily issued by dissidents from the Socialist Labor Party of Daniel DeLeon. In 1912, this 10-story building was finished, embellished with marble columns, panels, and stained glass windows. The facade features carved bas reliefs.

Dinner was at DBGB Kitchen and Bar. Remember I mentioned the French Chef Daniel Boulud .. well this is another one of his restaurants in NYC. It is (in his words) where the French Brasserie meets the American tavern. The interior takes a cue from the Bowery’s history as New York’s industrial restaurant supply neighborhood with floor to ceiling shelves stocked with the restaurant’s own tools, tableware, and dry goods. We were seated in the back right next to the kitchen area, that we could somewhat see from our table.

We did a set of sausages to start. The first is Vermont, which is a pork and cheddar link with hash browns and a red onion crème fraîche. The second and third were the Beaujolaise, which was a pork, mushroom, onion, bacon & red wine sausage link paired with lentils, and the Toscane, which was a pan roasted italian sausage with slow cooked fennel, tomato, chili & garlic.

For the main courses, I had the traditional Moules Frites, which is mussels steamed in a belgian ale along with preserved meyer lemon, served with fries. Tom went with the Cavatelli, which was pasta along with duck confit, butternut squash, confit tomatoes and garlic bread crumbs.

We again did cappucinno's and tonight's dessert was very french ... a cheese board with 5 different artisanal cheese with bread. The cheeses (in case anyone is interested) were: Jasper Hill Moses Sleeper (pasteurized cow from Vermont), Bucheron (pasteurized goat from the Loire region of France), Tomme Crayeuse (raw cow from the Rhone-Alps region of France), Weinkase Lagrein (pasteurized cow from the Alto-Adige regionof Italy) and Shropshire Blue (pasteurized cow from Leicestershire in England).