A Much Needed Breath of Fresh Air: Summer Streets 2017



It’s that time of year once again when, on its best days, the public transit system is relegated to a crude pneumatic tube belching hot air through the bowels of the city. We can add to that the now frequent occurrence of trains being delayed or stalling for prolonged periods of time. And then, of course, there were the three frightening derailments that have transpired since March. The truly incredible obsolescence of this integral system has been laid bare, the ugly truth plain for all to see. And no amount of half-measures–duct tape or bubble gum–can fix the mess. Andrew Cuomo’s “Summer of Hell” is in full swing.



New York City Summer Streets 2017 - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

New York City Summer Streets 2017 - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

New York City Summer Streets 2017 - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

And that’s precisely why Summer Streets, now in its 10th year, is such a breath of fresh air. The Department of Transportation’s eagerly anticipated program offers residents and visitors the opportunity to travel on a car-free route from the Brooklyn Bridge to Central Park for three consecutive Saturdays in August. The event’s purpose, according to the NYC.gov website, is to provide “space for healthy recreation.” But it also “encourages New Yorkers to use more sustainable forms of transportation.” To ensure no one chokes on a drink at that statement, it should be noted that the MTA, not the DOT, is responsible for the transit needs of New York City’s 8.6 million population.

Along the route this year, participants will find the usual unobstructed lanes for cycling, running and walking. There are also Rest Stops with booths and installations from innumerable city agencies, organizations, and companies offering free activities, information, demonstrations and products. Highlights include the LG sponsored Quadwash Water Park, a 165’-long, 30’-high zipline ride, free workouts at the Health and Fitness Zone, Citi-sponsored Food Sessions, and the Vita Coco-sponsored Beach and Beach Slide.



New York City Summer Streets 2017 - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

New York City Summer Streets 2017 - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

New York City Summer Streets 2017 - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

New York City Summer Streets 2017 - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

We ventured out to Summer Streets early this past Saturday morning despite the ominous forecast of heavy rain and thunderstorms. Fortunately for us, it never quite materialized. Our pictures might have a New York City-meets-The Walking Dead feel to them, but we were otherwise unaffected. (Though it’s quite an interesting contrast from our outing last year.) It was great to get the blood flowing and breathe some fresh air. Summer Streets offers a little something for everyone, whether it be families, sports enthusiasts, community advocates, or amateur photographers. There are still two Saturdays left, so don’t miss out!

You can find additional details, including route information, here. Certain activities require registration, have limited availability and are scheduled at designated hours. It’s recommended participants sign up ahead and show up early.

Dates & Hours: August 5, 12, and 19, from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m



Pair it with:

Brunch at Atla

New York City Summer Streets 2017 - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

New York City Summer Streets 2017 - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

Many participants of Summer Streets start downtown and work their way up to Central Park. The idea is to continue their “healthy recreation” in the park or, perhaps, to end the morning with a picnic on that gorgeous lawn. And sure, we get that. But Lynn and I have a different strategy. And that strategy is best reflected by this question: Would one be more likely to find food of the best quality and variety uptown or downtown? Exactly! And that’s how we ended up in NoHo at Atla, which is located directly on the Summer Streets route.

Atla is an all-day cafe offering contemporary Mexican bites in a bright, open, relaxed space. It’s another example in an increasingly crowded field of high-end chefs making moves at the casual end of the restaurant spectrum. In this case, it’s Chef Enrique Olvera, well known for Mexico City’s Pujol and the highly regarded New York City restaurant, Cosme. We found the trio of dishes we ordered simple, fresh, and tasty: the scrambled eggs with cherry tomatoes and chilies served with fresh corn tortillas, the huevos rancheros smothered in a smoky-sweet salsa, and the creamy, mildly tart whipped coconut yogurt with fresh blueberries dressed with just a touch of olive oil. It was the perfect meal–not too heavy, not too light–after such an early morning and so much walking.

Location:
372 Lafayette St

Hours:
Monday to Friday 8am – 4pm, 5pm-11pm
Saturday 10am – 4pm, 5pm-11pm
Sunday 10am – 4pm, 5pm – 10 pm

– J.

Open House by Liz Glynn at Central Park



I remember when I first read and fell in love with The Great Gatsby, and I’m sure you do too.  Nick Carraway, Jay Gatsby and Daisy Buchanan captured our collective imaginations, and we continue to romanticize the period described so vividly by F. Scott Fitzgerald.  However, the term “Gilded Age” originates from Mark Twain’s book of the same name, which was a scathing commentary on the excesses of the time.  “Gilded Age” alluded to the shiny veneer that masked underlying poverty and social ills.  California artist Liz Glynn bring us a fresh interpretation of this juxtaposition in her latest piece, Open House, for the Public Art Fund.  




Open House Liz Glynn Central Park - Mad Hatters NYC Blog
William C. Whitney Mansion at 871 Fifth Avenue
Open House Liz Glynn Central Park - Mad Hatters NYC Blog
Ballroom of William C. Whitney Mansion, Illustration by James Lewis

At the southeast corner of Central Park in Doris C. Freedman Plaza, you’ll find reproductions of sofas, chairs, footstools and arches that once inhabited the William C. Whitney Ballroom.  William C. Whitney was an elite political figure and financier, and his luxurious home once sat at 871 Fifth Avenue.  The reproductions are from the period after the mansion was renovated by Stanford White in 1900.  But Open House artist Liz Glynn makes one small tweak in her reimagining: each piece is made out of concrete.  Concrete is a common building material, hence creating accessible versions of the opulent pieces.

Let’s sidebar for a second here.  Does the name Stanford White sound familiar?  Sure, he was a well-established architect and an equally prominent figure of the time.  But you’re more likely to remember that he was brutally murdered on the roof garden theater of Madison Square Garden in 1906 due to his scandalous relationship with a young model and actress.  We talked about that juicy morsel in our Flatiron post here.





Open House Liz Glynn Central Park - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

Open House Liz Glynn Central Park - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

Discussions of widening income inequalities, rising costs of living and a disappearing middle class are pervasive today.  While the issues exist everywhere, one could argue that the disparities can be more prominently felt in an expensive metropolis like New York City.  So Open House might feel particularly relevant in its little piece of Central Park.  Come out and grab a seat.  Rest your feet after a long park excursion.  Perch on a concrete sofa while you nosh on the crepe you bought from one of the food vendors nearby.  Or just hang out and watch the horses and traffic go by.  But come soon, it looks like the pigeons of New York City are already claiming parts of it for themselves.

Open House will be on display through September 24.

Location: 
Doris C. Freedman Plaza



Pair it with:

Dinner at Fowler & Wells

When we posted this picture on Instagram, our friend Saba noted that it was giving her Gatsby vibes, which mirrored our feelings exactly.  But it wasn’t a coincidence.  The building was originally built in 1881, when the Gilded Age was just blossoming.  The Beekman Hotel’s opening last fall was easily one of the most celebrated.  The atrium is enough to make you swoon, but the revamp is triumphant in that it gives one a sense of the borrowed past mingling ever so coyly with the present.  

Open House Liz Glynn Central Park - Mad Hatters NYC Blog
The stunning interior at Fowler & Wells
Open House Liz Glynn Central Park - Mad Hatters NYC Blog
The black bass and diver scallops entrees were scrumptious




Open House Liz Glynn Central Park - Mad Hatters NYC Blog
Don’t miss the amazing fluke appetizer
Open House Liz Glynn Central Park - Mad Hatters NYC Blog
Looking down on the warm and cozy Bar Room

You can enjoy drinks and snacks in the Bar Room, or splurge on a meal at Fowler & Wells.  Both are under the purview of Tom Colicchio.  But Fowler & Wells is his first new restaurant in Manhattan in six years.  The menu at Fowler & Wells is meant to replicate the marriage of old and new, featuring classics with a contemporary feel.  On our visit we found the dishes were executed to perfection, and the service was impeccable.  If you’re hankering to play Jay Gatsby for a day, this might be a great place to do it.

Location:
5 Beekman St

Hours:
Breakfast
6:30am – 10:30am, Monday – Friday & Sunday
6:30 – 11:30am, Saturday
Lunch
12:00pm – 3:00pm, Monday – Friday
Dinner
5:30pm – 10:00pm, Sunday – Wednesday
5:30pm – 11:00pm, Thursday – Saturday
Sunday Brunch
11:00am – 3:00pm

– L.

Central Park Ice Festival



I used to live in Cleveland and I used to smoke. Having a cigarette in downtown Cleveland in January is what one might call “peak winter”.  It’s what separates the smokers from the puffers, we used to joke.  (Not something we smokers should’ve been so proud of, I’ll admit.)  New York City winters are mostly mild by comparison, which is probably the only reason why I would turn to Justin and say, “Let’s go to the Ice Festival! That sounds like fun!”

The Ice Festival is an annual event organized by the Central Park Conservancy.  At the Naumburg Bandshell, park visitors are treated to a live, on-site carving by Okamoto Studio, a custom ice studio based out of Long Island.  The studio, a design collective originally founded by father-son team Takeo and Shintaro Okamoto, is known for working its magic with crystal clear ice.  Besides performing at previous festivals, Okamoto Studio has also lent its talents to Barney’s holiday windows and numerous private events.



Central Park Ice Festival - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

Central Park Ice Festival - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

During the Ice Festival, the ice sculptors from Okamoto Studio are tasked with creating a replica of one of Central Park’s many bronze sculptures.  Last year’s event was cancelled due to inclement weather, so it was completely serendipitous that we finally made it out to the festival only to discover that this year’s replica was of the park’s Alice in Wonderland statue.  The bronze statue by José de Creeft was a gift by philanthropist George Delacorte, whose wife used to read the book to their children.  We obviously have our own attachment to Lewis Carroll’s tome.



Central Park Ice Festival - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

Central Park Ice Festival - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

Central Park Ice Festival - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

We arrived towards the later part of the event, after the sculptures had already been completed. At a balmy 45 degrees, the ice was melting pretty fast.  But the mild weather made the Silent Disco a hit, and we saw many getting down to the DJ’s tunes.  (On a funny note, a silent disco isn’t really silent:  most of its participants are singing to the music.)  It was a little crowded for our liking, but it’s no wonder why.  One couldn’t ask for a nicer winter evening to check out some art, sample some food truck fare, and then dance it all off in Central Park.  It’s the makings of a classic New York City adventure.



Pair it with:

Amorino

Central Park Ice Festival - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

Central Park Ice Festival - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

Now, I often wax poetic about how much I love this city, but you might be surprised to find out that I’m otherwise quite unromantic.  I despise Valentine’s Day and all the standard cliches that come with it.  Justin and I often laugh when my family texts to wish us Happy Anniversary because more often than not, we’ve forgotten.  We believe one has to be accountable in a relationship every single day, not once or twice a year.  I think volunteering to take out that really horrible, disgusting, ripe bag of trash says “I love you” more than a bouquet of roses.  BUT, if I were to ask for a rose, it would be one made out of ice cream.  

Ice cream roses have had their day (and then some!) on Instagram, and here it is, finally making an appearance on our blog.  I was introduced to Amorino by friends in London many years ago, and was thrilled to later discover it here in New York City.  It’s still one of my favorite gelato spots in the city.  And if I’m dressed for an Ice Festival, it means I probably have enough layers on to tackle a cone in the cold.  Winter be damned.

Multiple locations

– L.