The Centre of it All

The buildings around me seemed unreal.  Some buildings were art deco while others revealed a neoclassical flare.  I was waiting for someone to say, “Lights, camera, action!”

Then I approached that staircase.  I never imagined the enormity of its size; it seemed to go on forever. There we were.  Standing at the bottom of 60 Centre Street, was little me and a stroller filled with my two best gals.

If These Stairs Could Talk

New York State Supreme Courthouse
60 Centre Street

Police officers were posted on practically every corner, keeping a watchful eye.  I felt awkward snapping photos, fearing I would be arrested and charged with something.  I didn’t know if it was legal to do.

What came to mind were the countless episodes from the Law & Order franchise I practically know by heart.  I managed to muster up some courage and took a few shots of the iconic building where so many press conferences were held, the defense attacked the district attorneys and families of the victims took the acquitted accusers’ lives.  On occasion, the accuser had taken his own life, usually as the episode was coming to a close creating a sensational pause for viewers.  When I would finally manage to exhale, I would ponder how the story could have ended differently.  What experience or circumstance might have brought about a happy, uplifting ending?

Lower Manhattanby Gert Jonkman

Lower Manhattan
by Gert Jonkman

I guess my beau really has me pegged because when I came home the first thing he asked me was if I re-enacted walking down the steps. I was like, “Look.  I barely had enough inner strength and courage to take a picture of the building.  I wouldn’t dare prance up and down the stairs.”  Besides, I had the girls with me.  Do you think I would schlep a stroller up and down all those steps?

After the conversation I began to deeply miss the former me.  If you knew the former me you’d know very little could or would have held me back. The former me would have asked complete strangers to capture the moment with my Flip Camera while seeing after NOLA NYCole and Bella LaRue.


History always has a better story to tell. Who knows what it once was better than the past?  Today there are structures that, by mere appearance, are reminiscent of a much older, ancient past.  But before they were ever constructed was a kind of New York far different than what I see before me.

World Trade Center Site Memorial

World Trade Center Site Memorial
Photo Taken September, 2012

Back then, this was the Five Points.  Back then refers to the early nineteenth century.  It has been called the most notorious neighborhoods in New York City.  Think the book and movie, Gangs of New York.  Whether on the receiving end or inflicting it upon others, the criminal element was impossible to avoid.

Within the Five Points was Collect Pond, one of the city’s sources for fresh water.  But due to becoming grossly polluted, it was filled in 1811.  “How polluted could the pond have been?” might be a popular question to ponder.  Imagine carrying the burden of blame for being the source of spreading typhus and cholera.  Then filling in the pond makes perfect sense.

The Five Points had its share of woes.  We’re talking shanty town, complete with notorious people committing notorious crimes throughout its gang infested slums.  It was equipped with a brewery which back then was a sign of sin and perversion.  But the Five Points took the journey towards becoming Foley Square, a mecca for… Oh, shall I say it?  Well, it took the journey towards law and order we know today.

When looking around Foley Square there are civic buildings that flaunt the architectural pizazz of the time.  Each structure is a work of art filled with well-kept fixtures and statues.

NY City Courthouse

Manhattan Municipal Building
1 Centre Street

In 1926 the Board of Alderman showed tribute to prominent Democratic Party leader Thomas F. “Big Tom” Foley (1852–1925) by naming the city park in lower Manhattan’s Civic Center neighborhood after him.  Foley was an alderman, sheriff, Tammany Hall First Assembly District leader and a political member for Governor Alfred E. Smith.  Foley was also the proud owner of a saloon in the Five Points.

Watch where you step because you may just may have landed on a piece of something shiny. Around the square one can find five historical medallions made of bronze that depict a piece of the area’s history.  While Foley Square was under development, an 18th century African-American burial ground was unearthed and is expressed in one of the medallions.

Whether it may be the Five Points or Foley Square, this piece of New York has been a major part of the city’s existence.  One day in time that has changed the way we know the world today is September 11, 2001.  When our country was struck by the terrorist attacks on 9/11, Foley Square’s close proximity to the World Trade Center lent itself to serve as a triage center.  May the need to do so again never come to fruition.

Triumph of the Human Spirit

Triumph of the Human Spirit
Dedicated to the Unknown Enslaved Africans brought to to America

On a softer side, we can take a look at how many of us have become familiar with Foley Square.  While I’m sure I’m missing some, below are movies and tv shows that racked up some serious screen time at 60 Centre Street.


Miracle on 34th Street, 1947

12 Angry Men,1957

The Godfather, 1970

Legal Eagles, 1986

Nuts, 1987

Wall Street, 1987

Goodfellas, 1990

Regarding Henry, 1990

Carlito’s Way, 1993

It Could Happen to You, 1994

Miracle on 34th Street, 1994

Laws of Attraction, 2004

What Happens in Vegas, 2008

The Bounty Hunter, 2010


Kojak, 1973-1978

Cagney and Lacey, 1981-1988

Law and Order, 1990-2010

Law & Order:  SVU, 1999-

Law & Order:  Criminal Intent, 2001-2011

Made in Jersey, 2012

It’s sufficed to say that almost every building along Centre Street has significance that surpasses merely being the backdrop for a television show or movie.  If only their walls could talk, even the naughtiest person would blush.    I suppose such a venue has a variety of uses besides deciding between right and wrong. Between laying down the law, 60 Centre Street has even been the venue for a Tribeca Film Festival party thrown by Vanity Fair. I think New York favorite Joan Rivers should consider using one of the courtrooms to host Fashion Police. That would be the perfect venue to find all those fashion victims guilty as charged!

Civil Division of the New York County Supreme Court

60 Centre Street

New York, NY 10007-1501

Architect:  Guy Lowell

  • Built from 1919 to 1927
    • Classic roman architecture
    • Granite façade
    • Its 100-foot wide staircase has been featured in countless movies
    • Officially the seat of the New York County Supreme Court in 1927
    • City Landmark, 1966
    • Civil lawsuits
      • personal injury
      •  contract cases
      • Felony criminal case

Full Steam Ahead!

I Heart NYC

I Heart NYC

Hello to all my fantastic friends.  My posts have been on pause for a while, but I’m all set for more of all things NYC.   The girls, CJ and I are sending the most positive wishes to everyone who was and still is affected by Sandy.  We too are picking up the pieces and will be adding to our blog this week.  The girls and I were recently in the “Centre” of it all and can’t wait to share!

Take care everyone and best wishes,

Simone, CJ, NOLA NYCole and Bella LaRue

A [Red] Star is Born!

While organizing my DVD collection I stumbled upon Miracle on 34th Street.  It brought back memories of the first time I sat on Santa’s lap at Famous-Barr in downtown St. Louis.  There were two Santas!  It didn’t make sense to me at

American Christmas Classic, Miracle on 34th Street

all.  Kids could share their Christmas wish list with either a black or white Santa.  That still doesn’t make sense to me.  Perhaps my memory is not quite that sharp and I simply remembered what I heard my family talk about there being two Santas combined with channeling my inner Natalie Wood.  Choosing the race of Santa wasn’t part of the movie, but seeing the jacket of Miracle on 34th Streetand the memory of a shopping trip to the flagship store sparked my quest to explore all things Macy’s.

Macy’s Herald Square

Macy’s continues to please the hearts and buying minds of today’s fictitious characters.  To further my curiosity was an episode of the new television show, Guys with Kids, where Anthony Anderson’s character Gary took a trip to Macy’s to purchase a wedding anniversary gift for his wife, Marny played by Tempestt Bledsoe.  You gotta love a show that has characters from two of the hottest former television shows that were set in New York.  Anderson is from Law &Order and Bledsoe from The Cosby Show.  While I don’t recall hearing a member of the Huxtable family shopping at Macy’s just last week I watched a 2000 episode of Law & Order when the store was mentioned.  And who can forget those commercials that include famous people such as Jessica Simpson, Sean Combs/P. Diddy, Donald Trump and Martha Stewart peddling their wares? Judging by the large crowd in the store, real people enjoy shopping there as well.

It was one of the coldest days in New York, 2011 which meant bundling up from head to toe.  I headed to SOHO and stopped in the Ugg store.  Realizing I would be trying on an exhaustive amount of footwear I removed every inch of outer wear.  I had already made it back to midtown when I realized I forgot my 360’s.  Instead of heading back to the Ugg store I decided to stop into Macy’s and buy a replacement pair.  I couldn’t have my ears suffering from frostbite.

Main Characters on Elementary Pass Ugg Store in SOHO

I don’t shop in department stores very often.  On a rare occasion I’ll hit Bloomingdale’s or Macy’s.  After purchasing my 360’s, I realized it was the first time I had been inside Macy’s Herald Square, the flagship store.  It wasn’t until after being inside that I grasped the enormity of the store’s size.  After perusing several floors and checking out the latest fashions I decided to do something I had done countless times; take a walk along the exterior of the building.  After taking an external tour of the world’s largest department store I wondered what was the story behind Macy’s.

Perhaps because it’s nostalgia.  It wasn’t until I came across a Christmas Classic and it being so close to the holiday season that my curiosity got the best of me. Motivation had set in and off to Google I typed.

My discoveries have brought about an astounding appreciation for the man behind most of the incredible fetes behind Macy’s success.  This man is my new ‘businessman crush’. Born on August 30, 1822 in Nantucket Island, Massachusetts, Rowland H. Macy temporarily pursued life on the high seas with whale hunters at the age of 15.  Once he had the seafaring life out of his system he returned to Massachusetts to help out in his father’s shop.  One with a desire obtain independent means, Macy also tried his hand at store owning like his father and brother-in-law, without great success.  Macy then changed gears and headed to

Rowland H. Macy

California to seek his fortune during the gold rush in 1849. Not being one of the lucky ones who struck gold, Macy packed up and headed to Haverhill, Massachusetts where Rowland and his brother partnered to open a store that was rather successful.  Still, the desire to be his own man prevailed, and off to New York City was Rowland H. Macy.

Soon after Macy hit the big city, the small store he opened in the once low-rent neighborhood on 6th Avenue flourished.  Innovative ideas for getting people into his store were paramount to his success.  The implementation of various promotional techniques was used to entice shoppers.  He printed the prices of items in eye-catching newspaper ads and utilized Santa Claus to make Christmas not just a religious holiday but an American event.   In order to make room for more merchandise, Macy purchased a total of eleven buildings on 13th and 14th Streets (at the time of his death).  The red star logo is even a method of advertising as it has long been associated with Macy’s.  The inspiration behind it actually came from Macy’s own forearm. He had a red-star tattoo emblazed on it during his whaling days.  I guess the signature logo is white if on a red shopping bag.  Hmmm.

If you’re ever in the area, check out the large red Macy’s shopping bag, logo included, atop of the building located at the corner of 34thStreet and Herald Square.  It sits on top the location that posed a problem for Macy when he was purchasing property to expand his store.  The owner of the property, refused to sell. Once serving as a hot dog lunch counter, to this day, the building is separate from Macy’s.

Macy’s, Corner of 34th Street and Herald Square

List of Firsts and Peaks of Interest

1862 First In-Store Santa, Like Ever
1864 First Window Displays, Like Ever
1866 First Female Retail Executive, Like Ever
1902 First Department Store to Use Elevators and Escalators, Like Ever
1924 Macy’s Herald Square Becomes “World’s Largest Department Store”
1924 Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade, originally called “Macy’s Christmas Parade”
1927 Felix the Cat, First Hot Air Balloon in “Macy’s Day Parade”
1947 Miracle on 34th Street opens
1976 First Annual “Macy’s Fireworks Spectacular”
1982 Stores in Los Angeles and San Francisco start Passport, increasing awareness of HIV/AIDS, raising nearly $22 million to date
1944 Becomes nation’s largest department store retailer by joining Federated Department Stores
1977 Launched
2007 Federated Department Stores, Inc. becomes Macy’s Inc.

It’s a Lifestyle

The Plaza.  Need I say more?  I only wish you could hear the nasal, nose in the air manner in which I say, “The Plaza.” The moment I hit Fifth Avenue and Central Park South I want to scream as in prominent view is the land of all things luxurious we know as The Plaza.  This historic hotel has been a New York for the who’s who since October 1, 1907.  It also has been the backdrop in a host of television shows and movies.  It’s the hotel where Elaine from Seinfeld was to stay when she was interviewing for a publishing house.  Unfortunately, Jerry’s apartment had fleas and his visiting parents ended up soaking up The Plaza experience instead of Elaine.  And we can’t forget the episode of Murder She, Wrote where Jessica beat the police to the punch when she discovered one of the rooms to be the crime scene of a murder.   Need we mention Macaulay Culkin’s character, Kevin McCallister in Home Alone 2 when yet again his parents him yet again?  It was so sad yet so entertaining!

The first movie to actually use The Plaza as its backdrop was Alfred Hitchcock’s 1959 classic North by Northwest.  Prior films were shot on a sound stage in Hollywood.  Other movies that have since utilized The Plaza are Plaza Suite, The Way We Were, The Great Gatsby, Barefoot in the Park, Funny Girl, Cotton Club, Crocodile Dundee I and II and as previously mentioned, Home Alone II: Lost In New-York.

Prior to The Plaza circa, 1907 there was another hotel bearing the same name at the same location.  It took two years to complete the construction of the magnificent 19-story building we know and love today, a skyscraper back then.

Three men made the dream of The Plaza come true.  Financing the $12 million project, a hefty amount at the time, was financier Bernhard Beinecke.  Compare that price tag to the recent $450 million facelift the hotel received.  Fred Sterry was hotelier and Harry S. Black was the President of the Fuller Construction Company.  Others that contributed to the original grandeur includes designer, Henry Janeway Harenbergh who before The Plaza brought beauty to the Dakota Apartments, the Willard Hotel in Washington, D.C. and the Fairmont Copley Plaza Boston worked his magic at The Plaza.  With history in the making, The Plaza’s amenities were every bit impressive then as they are now.

The Plaza Hotel consists of 268 beautiful rooms.  If you’re fortunate enough to stay in one of the 102 suites, you’ll be pleased to know each has the largest square footage of all hotel suites in New York City and includes 24 hour butler service.

Originally serving as a private residence for the New York upper crust, with Mr. and Mrs. Alfred Gwynne Vanderbilt being the first to sign the register, The Plaza continues to offer permanent residency.  The pied-a-terre hotel condominiums are located on prime floors, offering all that money can buy.  Others who made The Plaza their home included Knights, business leaders, socialites, movie stars and artists.  Still available were rooms for rent at $2.50 per night.  Patrons were sure to see F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald spending their time at The Plaza while enjoying the company of fellow artistic and literary chums.  Today, an average night will run a guest anywhere from $665 to $865.  There are extras that can increase the price of each night’s stay.

Another famous person who lived at The Plaza was Kay Thompson.  Readers of Kay Thompson’s Eloise: A book for precocious grown-ups knew well. You see, Eloise and Kay Thomspon were actually one in the same but with a twist.  It was her charming and whimsical self as Eloise that delighted and entertained friends.  It was after a meeting in December 1954 with illustrator Hilary Knight that Eloise was born.  Knight had drawn a picture of Eloise on a Christmas card she sent her.  A little less than one year later, the Knight and Thomspon collaboration published the first Eloise book by Simon & Schuster and a living legend was born.

Visitors to the hotel would often ask for her.  They would be excitedly disappointed to find out they just missed her.  It was an inside joke among hotel staff to share that bit of news.  To solidify the ruse hotel staff would ask those requesting to see her to let her know her missing shoes were found.  There was actually a pair of Mary Janes on hand to give credence to their statement. To honor Eloise, Betsy Johnson was commissioned to design a suite bearing the illustrious and illusive writer.  There’s actually an Eloise Ambassador to make reservations.

The beauty of old-world luxuriousness is blended with today’s technology.  Like most hotels, each room at The Plaza has a flat screen television and Wi-Fi internet access.  One amenity The Plaza can boast being the first hotel to offer is the use of an iPad to make just about any request.  You want it, you got it; just let your fingers stroke across that piece of today’s technological finest.

Perhaps staying overnight at The Plaza is not in your budget.  Consider having afternoon tea at The Palm Court.  It recently received a $6.5 million restoration. Consider treating yourself to something in one of the exclusive boutiques or a meal in one of the fine restaurants.  You may want to get your coif tended to at the hair salon or a massage at the spa.  Whatever the case, it’s nice to explore an institution that not only was designated a New York City Landmark in 1969, is listed on the Register of Historic Places and is the only New York City hotel to be designated as a National Historic Landmark.

I ended up staying over for one night without partaking in the amenities.  It was all too much for me!  Next time, I’ll do the opposite.  Next time I’ll take advantage of the offerings at the Plaza Food Hall.  Collaborating with chef and restaurateur Todd English, there is a host of items one can purchase that can be enjoyed on the go or in one of eight seating areas.  Whatever your appetite, there is sure to be a type of cuisine that is satisfying.

For more information visit The plaza’s website.  The Plaza is one of many Fairmont managed hotels.  Click the following link to locate others.

I Wanna Rock!

I Wanna Rock!

I walk everywhere.  I walk and walk and walk!  And as a novice to all things New York, I’m in awe each time I discover something new.  We all know 30 Rock is the home of Saturday Night Live, the show, 30 Rock and NBC News Studios.  So when I decided to school myself about Rockefeller Plaza, meaning 30 Rock, I discovered I stepped into a whole new city.  I mean, I fell into John D. Rockefeller, Jr.’s “city within a city”!  I’m still astounded when I’m walking down a street in midtown Manhattan and I’m passing a building that is a part of Rockefeller Center.  On any given day I am in the middle of what was once boasted to be the 57thlargest city in the United States.  Did I ever have a lot to learn!

There are just some things a person must do whether as a tourist or resident if one wants to be educated in all things Big Apple.  Yes, I wore comfy clothes and shoes, strapped on my camera then set off to take a tour of Rockefeller Center.  And I’m glad I did because I not only gained an education but I burned calories as well. Man, John D. Rockefeller, Jr. and later those who shared his vision did it and did it BIG! I mean, they brought it!

We’re all familiar with the art of buying and selling.  Whenever you are making a purchase, there are always various packages from which to select.  There’s the basic package and then there are add-ons.  Buying entry to Rockefeller Plaza was no different.  When the ticket booth attendant began her sales pitch I had the biggest “get on with it” look on my face.  But thankfully something she said gained my full attention and what I consider `a la carte heightened my interest.

It was like I was celebrating something special and was ordering a meal in a fine restaurant when the main course just wouldn’t do.  I wanted an appetizer, salad and two vegetables to make my meal complete.  I felt as if I even had room for dessert.  I was certain I was getting my money’s worth!

For those who watch Big Bang Theory, think back to the Herb Garden Germination episode Sheldon and Amy make fun of Brian Greene when he “dummied down” Werner Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle for those who love the show!  Below is a layout for purchasing tickets similar to the Brian Greene’s that made Sheldon and Amy giddy with delight.

Ticket Menu

Column  A


Column B


Column C

Observation Deck

Rockefeller Center Tour

Combo Tickets

Adult                             $25.00



Child (6-12)                  $16.00
Senior (62+)                  $23.00
Sunrise Sunset              $38.00
Sunrise Sunset Child     $20.00

You can purchase tickets ahead of time by going to Top of the Rock website.  For those wanting to be romantic and/or love to take pictures you might want the Sunrise/Sunset tickets as you can go to the Observation Deck twice.  Be sure to download the podcast to enjoy during your tour via iPod or mp3 player.

When I walk around the original buildings I couldn’t help to think about Miami, Florida.  The architecture is Art Deco which is prominent throughout Miami. I’m sure it was “the thing” during the time of construction. It definitely makes a statement.  Then there’s the incredible amount of art throughout each building.  The extensive collection of expensive art and high-end finishes adorned the interior and exterior.  Being a novice of art appreciation, I was unfamiliar with many of the artists commissioned to provide pieces.  And the mere number of buildings that made up Rockefeller Center was enough to make your head swirl.

And to make the experience all the more wonderful, I was more than pleased with our tour guide as she provided the juicy gossipy tidbits that were like the dessert one so longs for at the end of a meal.  From what I remember, his oldest child and only daughter Abbie, often called Babs was quite the handful.

About John D. Rockefeller, Jr.

  • Born in Cleveland, Ohio on January 29, 1874
  • Only son of a family of four
  • Graduated from Brown University in 1897
  • After four years of courtship, married daughter of a U.S. senator from Rhode Island, Abby Aldrich
  • Had one daughter and five sons
  • Taught his children the value of money by insisting they earn allowance by completing chores; having to account for every penny, they could only spend one-third of their earnings
  • His father founded Standard Oil Company, University of Chicago(along with the American Baptist Education Society)and the Rockefeller Foundation
  • Served as a director of Standard Oil and U.S. Steel Company
  • In order to separate himself from controversies surrounding both companies and focus on his philanthropic efforts, Jr. resigned from both director positions
  • Incredible philanthropist; gifts to charities estimated to be $537 million
  • Originally planned to build an opera house for the Metropolitan Opera halted due to stock market crash in 1929
  • Financing the project himself, Rockefeller Jr. acquired a line of credit from Metropolitan Life Insurance Company and sold Standard Oil stock to finance the original 14 building Rockefeller Center project
  • Signed an 87 year lease with original land owner Columbia University on which to build
  • Died in 1960 at the age of 86 in Arizona

I didn’t know in the 30’s…

  • Giant Christmas Tree tradition began adorning the Center in 1931, before first building opened
  • 30 Rockefeller Plaza opens in May, 1933
  • Construction project successfully brought jobs to more than 75,000 people during the most decrepit time of the year, The Great Depression
  • Was the largest building project of it day
  • Skating rink opens December 25, 1936
  • John D. Rockefeller Jr. drives in the last rivet celebrating the completion of the Rockefeller Center project’s original 14 buildings in 1939
  • Gone with the Wind was produced in one of the 5th Avenue buildings
  • The Christmas Spectacular debuted

Enjoying the View!

I didn’t know in the 40’s…

  • Rockefeller Center was originally named Radio Center
  • Original 14 buildings completed at a cost of $100 million
  • Radio City Music Hall was once a venue for watching movies
  • Because of the military’s needs, Rockefeller Center tour guides were all female
  • Full capacity was reached by 1946 with 400 business on the waiting list
  • In 1948, ownership of Rockefeller Center was transferred to his five sons
  • All time high attendance rates at Radio City Music Hall; there was a time when more than 11,000 people stood in line to watch a movie

I didn’t know in the 50’s…

  • First mortgage paid off 17 years after the opening of 30 Rockefeller Center
  • Because of the Cold War, air raid drills were conducted regularly
  • Debut of The Today Show at 30 Rockefeller Center
  • The Center Theatre, formerly the RKO Roxy Theatre was demolished in 1954, the only Rockefeller Center building to be torn down
  • The Howdy Doody Show is the venue where the annual Christmas Tree is first shown on television
  • Rockefeller Center is fully air-conditioned

I didn’t know in the 60’s…

  • Philanthropist and visionary John D. Rockefeller Jr., dies
  • Rockefeller Center initiates a fallout shelter program again due to the second Cold War
  • Radio City Music Hall continues to be successful setting a single week attendance record of 165, 225 with the film Bye, Bye Birdie
  • Rockefeller is beyond capacity with 10% renters on a waiting list
  • Longest running movie record of 14 weeks is set by the film The Odd Couple at Radio City Music Hall
  • A terror bomb is detonated on the 20th floor of 30 Rockefeller center without injury
  • Rockefeller Center increases the number of buildings

Night Vision

I didn’t know in the70’s…

  • Real estate slump brought about noticeable vacancies
  • Tenant population makes “The city within a city” the 57th largest city in the United States
  • The world watches the fight between Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier via closed-circuit
  • Honor of being the second most significant piece of architecture in America given by the American Institute of Architects
  • Boxer Joe Frazier turns singer as he belts out sweet sounds in the Rainbow Room with orchestra and back-up chorus
  • The state of New York bailed out Radio Music Hall, preventing its closure
  • Radio Music Hall is transformed into a venue for live performances
  • Rockefeller increases in growth again, bring total to 21 buildings spread across 22 acres                                                                                          .

I didn’t know in the 80’s…

  • The façade of 30 Rockefeller Center receives night lighting
  • Rockefeller purchases the land from Columbia University for $400 million
  • The original buildings were declared a National Historic Landmark
  • Mortgage of $1.3 billion taken on Rockefeller Center
  • Majority interest was purchased by Mistubishi Estate Company for $846 million

I didn’t know in the 90’s….

  • Frank Sinatra serenaded fans at Radio City Music hall, selling out five straight shows
  • After being held hostage for seven years in Lebanon, Associated Press reporter Terry Anderson he was welcomed to the AP offices at 50 Rockefeller Plaza complete with a rose-petal shower
  • Rockefeller Center was in Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection
  • Incredible slump in tenancy with a 26% vacancy rate
  • Controlling ownership goes from Mitsubishi to Goldman Sachs, Tishman Speyer, and David Rockefeller in 1997

I didn’t know in the 2000’s…

  • Full control of Rockefeller Center is acquired by Tishman
  • Vacancy rate is less than 1%
  • Rockefeller Center celebrated its 75th birthday in 2008

Doing Time as an Ivy Leaguer

Whenever I’m watching one of shows in the Law & Order franchise there tends to be a university mentioned.  Characters including Stabler’s daughter Kathleen and Fin’s son Ken attended the fictitious Hudson University.  NYU and Columbia University were highlighted as well.  For those SVU fans you’ll probably remember that Stabler’s daughter Maureen wanted to attend Columbia but he forgot to send in the application fee so she too attended Hudson.

Institution of Higher Learning

I’m not gifted or talented in any area.  I do however see the importance of a good education.  While I have a bachelor’s, two master’s and I’m only two classes and a dissertation away from my doctorate, it became abundantly clear I didn’t understand the full meaning of alumnus/alumni.  I always thought those words meant a person/ people  who “graduated” from a given school.  I didn’t realize that all you had to do was to “attend” said institution to be considered an alumnus.  It goes to show there’s always room for continued learning.

Senior Staff Developer, Consultant, Instructor and Author Jennifer Serravallo (center)

The Master Lucy Calkins at Work; Founding Director of the TCRWP, Incredible Author and Co-director of the Literacy Specialist Program

My average abilities and I received a bachelor of science and our first master of science degree at public universities.  I graduated from the University of Missouri-Columbia, or MIZZOU,  the first public institution of higher education west of the Mississippi River and the largest university in the state with a bachelor’s degree.  I later went on to the lesser known University of Missouri-St. Louis, or UMSL for a master’s.  Feeling empowered I attended Lindenwood University, a private institution for my second master’s and doctorate degrees which simply meant the price tag my parents endured was a bit higher.  Never, and I mean never in my wildest dreams did I or could I imagine ever attending a prestigious, Ivy League school.

Deputy Director of the TCWRP at Teachers College Reading and Writing Project, Instructor and Author Kathleen Tolan (center)

So when I heard that colleagues of mine with I.Q.’s surely no higher than mine were attending a learning institute at Columbia University and that I could apply, I thought I had died and gone to heaven!  Having the full understanding that I would be walking the same halls as some of the most intelligent, talented and successful people that ever lived on Earth I had to apply.

And so it was. I would be one of the thousands of educators who emerged from the subway and

A Signal While on the Subway, “We’re Here”!

marched along Broadway to enter Teachers College. For the past four years I have participated in learning institutes and learned under some of the brightest minds in field of education.

As I researched Columbia, I was enamored  by its amazingly rich history.  I’m still in awe by all I discovered.  I’ve tried to include some of the mentionables. People to note who attended Columbia can be found at The list includes nine Justices of the United States, 20 living billionaires,  25 Academy Award winners, and 29  heads of state, including three United States Presidents.  Both Theodore and Franklin D Roosevelt graduated from Harvard University and went on to law school at Columbia where neither earned a law degree.  Teddy Roosevelt was the driving force behind reforming safety practices in college football, bringing about the NCAA.  President Obama earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science then went on to Harvard University, our nation’s first institution of higher learning where he earned his law degree.

Staff developer and Instructor Jerry Maraia

Its Inception

  • Original name:  King’s College
  • Founded: 1754 by charter from King George II of England
  • Oldest institution of higher learning in New York and fifth oldest in the United States

    Alma Mater

  • Location:  school house in Trinity Church in lower Manhattan
  • First dean and only professor at the time:  Samuel Jackson
  • First student Body:  eight

Early Years

  • In 1767 became the first American medical school was founded
  • In 1775 commencement was cancelled because of the Revolutionary War.
  • By 1776, classes were cancelled (for eight years)
  • The campus served as a military hospital for the Continental army then by the British when they occupied Manhattan

    Staff Developer, Instructor and Author Shanna Schwartz (center)

  • Many affiliated with Columbia were originally on the side of the crown but later went on to instrumental in the founding of our country, namely Alexander Hamilton (Class of 1778), John Jay (Class of 1764), Gouverneur Morris (Class of 1768) and Robert R. Livingston (Class of 1765)
  • Reopened in 1784 as Columbia College (Land of Columbus) with Hamilton and Jay leading the charge
  • It’s been parked along streets such as Wall Street, Park Place, Madison Avenue and Broadway
  • The university’s current charter has been in force since 1810

The Beginning of Intercollegiate Sports at Columbia




Further Changes

  • By 1892-Various degree options were offered
    • The School of Mines (now Engineering)
    • The College of Physicians and Surgeons, the School of Nursing
    • The School of Library Service (now closed)
    • The School of Architecture
    • The Law School had been established
    • What is now known as the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences

      Early Columbia University Press Logo

    • Affiliated institutions Barnard College and Teachers College
    • 1896-Renamed Columbia University in the City of New York, the undergraduate school remaining Columbia College
    • 1897-the Morningside campus opened its doors

      Pinch Me Because I Must be Dreaming

    Let’s Go Lions!!!

20th Century

  • the modern science of anthropology and the foundation of modern genetics established
  • Responding to WWI, in 1919 the first course of what became the Core Curriculum, titled “War and Peace Studies” was offered
  • the birthplace of FM radio
  • the first North American site where the atom was split
  • A few legendary faculty members
    • Jacques Barzun ’27
    • Mark Van Doren
    • Lionel Trilling ’25
    • I.I. Rabi
  • the 1940s, members of the Beat Generation attended Columbia
    • Allen Ginsberg ’48
    • Jack Kerouac ’44
  • In 1966, the country’s oldest gay rights advocacy group, the Student Homophile League, was founded
  • In 1973, the Black Student Organization was established
  • In 1983, Columbia College became the last Ivy League school to admit women

    Low Memorial Library, Where Annual Pulitzer Luncheon is Held

  • Typically ranked as the fourth most sought out U. S. institution in which to learn
  • Administers the Pulitzer Prize (Shout out to Hungarian-born Joseph Pulitzer who was the publisher for the New York World and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch!!!)
  • Has ties to more Nobel Prize laureates than any other academic institution in the world

Look Mom!

So, getting back to the word alumnus, does it mean that I too am one of Columbia University? While they may not be degrees, I do have the certificates of participation and keep in mind I have dined at Tom’s Restaurant!

Hi Mom!


The Most Important Meal of the Day

Breakfast is my favorite meal of the day.  I may have left Tiffany’s on an empty stomach I do know of many other places where I can get my fill.  Naturally when I travel I make a point to dine at restaurants that are receiving buzz.  If I’m in St. Louis, I have several diners from which to choose.  There’s Goody Goody, Uncle Bill’s and the City Diner. There’s only one Good Goody and if I go to Uncle Bills or the City Diner, I have to go to the original location.  If I’m in Chicago I must have my morning meals at Wishbone.  I have to go to the location just a block away from Harpo Studios. So it’s only natural that I had to locate the spot where Jerry, Elaine, George and Kramer frequented.

Breakfast anyone?

Nostalgia appeared and I ended up watching the first two seasons of Seinfeld.  The pilot, aka the Seinfeld Chronicles, aka Good News, Bad News originally aired on July 5, 1989 spotlighted Pete’s Luncheonette, so I just knew I had to go there.

Unfortunately, I never found it. Well, I’d actually have to go to the set where The Muppets Take Manhattan was filmed because Pete’s doesn’t really exist.  I could have a tasty Egg McMuffin though.  The exterior of Pete’s, 208 Varick Street in New York City, is now a McDonald’s Express.  The film was shot on location in New York City in the summer of 1983 and released the following year. The movie introduced the world to the Muppet Babies whose cartoon version later went on to entertain children on Saturday mornings. It would have been fun to get to know Pete, the owner and to have Miss Piggy as my server.

Before we had Elaine, there was Claire. Earmarked as a regular cast member in the pilot’s credits, Lee Garlington was a waitress at Pete’s.  When the show officially premiered a year later, out went Lee Garlington’s Claire and in came Julia Louis-Dreyfus who beat out notables Patricia Heaton, Rosie O’Donnell and Megan Mullally for the part of Elaine Benes.

Pete’s Out; Mickey D’s In

Not to be discouraged, I launched a search for the restaurant that became a Seinfeld staple:  Monk’s.  I just had to find the fun little diner where the gang spent countless hours talking about nothing.  I was really looking for Monk’s! Reality set in and I reached my true destination, Tom’s Restaurant.  The show itself assisted in the fact finding mission as many shots give away the restaurant’s location.

The Real Deal

When I think back to my experience at Tom’s I can recall having the pancakes, sausage and eggs but I can’t recall how the food tasted.  The fact I can’t recall feeling ill or dissatisfied and the fact that pictures reveal in front of me a host of empty plates, I’m lead to believe I enjoyed my meal.

I think I’ve found my new tradition!


  • Located in Morningside Heights, Southwest side of Harlem, (it’s still Manhattan folks) in New York City; 2880 Broadway on the corner of 112th Street
  • Changed hands before it became Tom’s as a Jewish immigrant sold the restaurant to Greek immigrant Thanasi (Thomas) who then later sold interest to immigrants from the island of Kassos and Sifnos
  • Owned by Greek-American family of Minas Zoulis for over 70 years.
  • The current owner/manager, Mike Zoulis followed in his father’s footsteps who was a partner with Tom’s original founder
  • Open 24 hours serving breakfast, lunch and dinner
  • Just down the street from Columbia University; became official Columbia student once you’ve enjoyed a milkshake and gravy fries in the wee hours of the morning
  • President Obama dined there when he attended Columbia
  • Building owned by Columbia University and houses some its programs and NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies
  • Bring cash; credit cards not accepted
  • Susan Vega wrote a song about it, Tom’s Diner in 1987 (I still love that song!!!); videos below
  • One similarity between Pete’s and Tom’s to note is they were both founded by Greek immigrants.

Check out the YouTube videos below.

Susan Vega         DNA

Other character changes

  • Frank Cosanza:  Out John Randolph; In Jerry Stiller; Jerry Stiller later reshot Randolph’s scenes to provide consistency
  • Newman:  Out Larry David(voice only);  In Wayne Knight; Knight later recorded David’s voiceovers
  • Morty Seinfeld:  Out Philip Bruns; In Barney Martin



Other Seinfeld Mentionables

  • Jerry, Elaine and George had siblings that viewers never saw
  • Dan O’Keefe, Editor of Reader’s Digest created Festivus in 1966; created to celebrate the first date he had with his wife; his son Daniel was a writer for Seinfeld show, reinvented the holiday thus bringing it to primetime television
  • The series began and ended with a discussion about a button on George’s shirt

They Don’t Serve Breakfast at Tiffany’s?

They Don’t Serve Breakfast at Tiffany’s?

Right up there with the movie When Harry Met Sally is Breakfast at Tiffany’s. I remember the first time I came to know Holly Golightly. I was in awe of her! (Actually I love all things Audrey Hepburn!!!) She seemed to be this totally together socialite, carefree who threw fabulous parties. Of course, I later found out she was just some of us or just me-confused about the course in life being taken, caught up in masking true feelings without a sense of belonging. I think the weirdest part of the whole movie was not that Holly was passing secrets for an inmate in Sing Sing but that she was married to Doc Golightly played by actor/dancer Buddy Ebsen from Barnaby Jones and Beverly Hillbilliesfame. What’s a girl to do?

I can’t wait to go inside!

I would like to say I read the book from which the movie was derived but my only experience with the story is with the DVD. Fred, played by George Peppard was messing around with the older married lady, Mrs. Emily Eustance Failenson aka 2E played by Patricia Neal but I so hoped he would end up with Holly Golightly! His character’s name was actually Paul Varjak but in true Holly Golightly style, she gave him a name she thought was more fitting. Rooming with Holly was ‘Cat’. A beautiful feline she found but didn’t want to be fuss with giving it an appropriate name.

After discussing the movie with a few friends who actually read the Truman Capote book, all I could say was that the movie was written in true Hollywood style. There shouldn’t have been any kiss at the end of the movie as Fred was supposed to be gay. I only wish the book could have been more accurately portrayed in the movie. Truman Capote was not keen with the way the movie ended either. I was surprised to learn that Capote originally selected his friend, Marilyn Monroe to play Holly but Paramount Pictures called the shots so Audrey was in. I’m going to put the book on my summer reading list as soon as I get through the Shades trilogy, Andy Cohen and Joan Rivers. Not until then can I can provide further criticism as I’m sure I will find more!

The jewelry store on Fifth Avenue brings another movie, Sweet Home Alabama to mind. I so thought my first visit to Tiffany & Company would be tremendous just like Reese Witherspoon’s character in the movie! When Melanie was swept off her feet by Andrew (Patrick Dempsey) it was simply mouthwatering! I imagined freshly shined finishes that sparkled in the light. I thought for sure I would enter Ms. Wilson and exit a Mrs. To Be.

Will all my dreams come true once I step inside?

Well things didn’t twinkle or shine and I exited with the same foreseeable last name as I had entered. I’m still with my beau who I love tremendously and I’ve come to realize that not all that glitters is gold, platinum or sterling silver for that matter!


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Been There Done That Tee

Super Heroes Take New York

After taking the plunge into the career change pool, I had to find what I would truly enjoy doing with my life then hit the ground running.  That led me to combine the interests of my treasured friends and mine, my love of fashion and blogging about the sights and sounds that pertain to NYC.  I’m no clothing designer; I can only draw stick figures, letter birds and alphabet houses.  But I do feel I have a calling for what looks good.  I also take a stand for and speak out for causes that affect those around me.  This led me to ‘Don’t Hate!’ and Oh That’s Cute Shop.  Blogging about all things media is just icing on the cake! Even though I could have started my own business while maintaining my former career, I had enough!  I can now devote all my time into my true passions.  Because my clothing and accessory business is based in St. Louis, Missouri, I spend a lot of time in the ‘Lou’.                               Say it Loud!  Wear it Proud!

Have no fear, when I’m in St. Louis look I look back on my Big Apple experiences!  In order to provide myself the New York fix, I do things that can visually transport me there.  Celebrating my boyfriend’s birthday allowed me to picture myself in the city that never sleeps.  Spending the weekend in our small St. Louis apartment would be no fun so I decided to book a room at the Chase Park Plaza Hotel.  There are so many amenities on site we didn’t have to leave the premises.   I love seeing a movie at the Chase because they serve libations.  How wonderful!

One movie I knew my boyfriend and I would enjoy was Avengers.  We could have seen it when it first opened on Thursday night at 11:55 p.m. but the last time I did that was at the opening of the second Harry Potter movie and I fell asleep almost right from the beginning.  Instead we opted for a nice early Friday afternoon viewing. It was at a time when the theater charged the lowest price so we could indulge in concession food without feeling we were totally getting ripped off.  While we waited for the movie to begin, we were entertained by an organist.  How cool is that?  We were sipping libations, munching on popcorn while listening to old-old school music.

Yummy cupcakes for dessert!

Not only was I entertained by the dramedy but I was transported to The Big Apple.   The only downfall was the mass destruction of parts of city.  Do you remember what they did to Grand Central Station? Ugh!!!

Grand Central Terminal

While stone and glass were flying everywhere I quickly thought about my visit to the historic building.  I’m not sure what I expected when I walked through the doors of the beautifully maintained Grand Central Station.  At first I thought perhaps it was the time of day where there weren’t as many people as I had imagined, especially compared to the craziness I experience when I’m in Penn Station.

Before finding affordable digs in New York, I stayed in Jersey.  When it was time to leave New York and go home, I’d stare at the screen to see on which track my train was.  When it popped up,  it was off to the races!  (The train will be leaving ten minutes after it appears on the screen). I’ve never seen a swarm of people move so fast.

But after walking around Grand Central Station I realized that the crowd is spread out!  While at Penn Station, people are primarily there to travel to and from New York and hover around television screens in the waiting area to find out to which track they’ll be sprinting.  Grand Central Station seems to have a different flavor as people are not only traveling but shopping and dining as well.

Is my train coming?

While the credits to Avengers were rolling I thought back again to my time in GCS.  I wondered what it must have been like during the time when trains were the main source of long-distance travel. I pictured the clothing that was worn and the luggage that was carried.  I’m sure people were in their finest and had nice leather trunks filled with their belongings.

Nowadays, we travel wearing t-shirts, jeans or shirts and carry luggage made out of nylon.  Things surely were different back then.  There are times when I wish we could go back to a more stylish way of doing things.

I Travel in Casual Style

After my friends and I walked around, marveling at the architecture throughout, we went downstairs to the food court and had lunch.  I would have never imagined there would be a food court in Grand Central Station but I’m glad there was.  After all the sightseeing we did, it was nice to sit for a bit and munch on a meal that didn’t require leaving a tip. Considering we’re educators, money doesn’t readily growing on trees in our backyards.

Me Too!!!

The ‘learner’ in us came out and we wanted to know more about Grand Central Station.

  • Before the Grand Central Station of today there was the Grand Central Depot
  • Opened in 1871
  • Cost $6.4 million to build
  • John B. Snook, architect
  • Home to the New York Central and Hudson River Railroad, New York and Harlem Railroad, and the New York, New Haven, and Hartford Railroad each equipped with a waiting room, baggage handling and ticket booth
  • Opened its doors at 12:01 a.m., Sunday February, 1913
  • World’s largest train station

After needed renovations, the name was changed to Grand Central Station.  Increased pollution (noise and air) there began a decline in the use of steam engines. The catastrophic train accident on January 8, 1902 brought about a change in the railroad system in New York.  Underway was the development of  a two level level terminal Grand Central Station to accommodate electric trains.  Between 1903 and 1913 construction of an updated Grand Central Station began.

  • $80 million budget, ~$2 billion today
  • Reed and Stem and Warren and Wetmore, architectural firms (seems played a part in selecting the firms)
  • Grade of the rail yard was lowered to an average depth of 30 feet below street level
  • Chief engineer, William Wilgus was behind its electrification, internal ramp system, and circumferential drives, incredible innovations at the time
  • Old Grand Central Station used during construction then razed in 1910
  • Temporary station used until 1912

Because there was no longer the need for an open rail yard, streets were paved over and developers began building around GCS; New York Central Railroad profited from selling air rights to such developers.  The creation of the new Grand Central Station brought about an incredible construction surge in New York City.

Between 1913 and 1917 Construction on Railroad Property Across Vanderbilt Avenue

Biltmore Hotel

Yale Club

Two office buildings

Developments Completed by 1831

Apartment Buildings



Park Lane








While railroad travel was readily used,  more than 65 million people made (40% of the population in the U.S. at that time) were on trains that traveled through Grand Central Terminal in 1947, such travel didn’t fare so well the next decade.  Traveling by car and plane became more prevalent which put a huge damper on the train industry.  Because of the drop in revenue, in 1954 Grand Central Terminal was set to be demolished in order to make way for office space.

Thanks to the Landmarks Preservation Commission the Grand Central Terminal remained a part of New York City.  The terminal became a National Historic Landmark in 1976,

Let there be light!

further solidifying its continued existence.  Renovations and restorations throughout the years brought the grand structure back to the beauty we know today.  Chandeliers in the Main Concourse were thought to have been bronze but after one cleaning they were discovered to be nickel and gold-plated.

Grand Central Station is not just a venue for travel.  If you’re in Midtown, it’s a great place to indulge in dining (fine or fast) and have drinks.  For my friends and I we enjoyed selecting lunch from one of the less costly establishments in the lower level.  After eating, we walked through many of the special shops throughout Grand Central Station.

I will leave you with three items as part of a scavenger hunt.

  1. Before you leave Grand Central Station you’ll want to find the cast-iron eagles.  They once were a part of the old Grand Central Station which now adorn the top of Grand Central Station today.
  2. There is said to be a Whispering Gallery.  If you find the right spot, ask a friend to stand in a particular corner and whisper something.  You should be able to clearly hear what was said when standing diagonally across the room.
  3. The ceiling in the Main Concourse was replaced due to gross disrepair in the late 1930’s.  It is said that the painting has a quirky story behind it, one that has developed different opinions.