Gramercy Park & Union Square, New York City
This walking tour commences Sunday mornings at 11am and is conducted by volunteers, our guide a retired 65 year old man had lived his whole life within 2 km of Madison Square Park. His knowledge of the area was outstanding and he would brighten it up with stories of shootings in the best restaurants. The Flatiron district was once the centre of the city, a high class area with beautiful buildings.
The guide spent 20 minutes giving the group the history of the area and then we walked around the square stopping at some of the buildings and he would describe the history. It was a most interesting 90 minutes. Some of the buildings were:
New York Life Insurance
Western Union Building
Original Site of Statute Of Liberty
The Worth Monument
At the time of its opening Union Square was an urban park, which was kept in mind as popular place of the drug dealers and the stump orators.
However, after a more million dollars renovation, nowadays it became already a favourite year-round, open-air farmers market of Manhattan, where the various vendors arrive four times weekly.
The farmers sell mainly organic and traditional foodstuffs, spices, fruits, tiny vegetables, flowers, homespuns. You may find honey and even some great, home cooked pies, which are really homemade exclusively. If you want any special dream to realise, the vendors accept advance orders for it at least a week ahead.
Most of the farmers donate the end-of-day unsold produce to food pantries and soup kitchens generaly.
Market days draw tens of thousands of people; some just browse, enjoying a leisurely stroll past the vendors, perusing the merchandise, like me. Since the market is not a high-pressure retail environment, it allows you to be comfortable.
Vitality and community, long absent, can again be found in and near Union Square, even on days when the market is not operating.
Farmers markets you can find not only in Manhattan but in Brooklyn, Bronx, Queens and Staten Island as well. Most of them, however, are operating in summer only.
Open: Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday from 8am until 6pm, year-round
Address: Union Square
Directions: Broadway & E. 17th St. at Union Square Park
The first place to go after arriving in Manhattan should be the Visitor's Center on Times Square, they have lots of brochures about what's going on, how to get there, and Coupons for all major attractions. If you have time, take the free tour of Times Square, starting at noon in the Visitor's Center every Friday, and they tell you about more tours you can take for free.
There is one on Sundays in the Lower East Side, another one at Grand Central on Wednesdays, yet another one in Downtown and Union Square. And, and, and....
You just have to ask, the "NewYorkers" just love to show you their city.
And I can tell you, from experience, it's just beautiful!!!!!!!!
Gramercy Park, developed in the 1830's, is a tranquil square at the bottom of Lexington Avenue between 20th and 21st streets. It is New York City's only private park, only those who live in the surrounding town houses or apartment buildings - or those who stay at the Gramercy Park hotel - have access with their own key. Anyone, however, can enjoy the charm of the neighboring district between Third and Park Avenues. The buildings around the square were designed by some of the city's most famous architects, including Stanford White. It's a wonderful area for walking and you can easily make it to nearby Union Square (14th St) or Madison Square / Flatiron building/district (23rd St)
Directions : subway 6 to 23rd St, or L-N-Q-R-4-5-6 to Union Square / 14th St
nearby sites of interest :
-Theodore Roosevelt's Birthplace is two blocks to the west, on 28 east 20th Street between Broadway and Park Avenue South
-Union Square is 3 blocks to the south and 1 block to the west
-A cluster of fantastic buildings (between Park Avenue South and Madison Square Park) is 1 block to the west and 3 blocks to the north : NY Life Insurance Company Building, the Supreme Court building and the Metropolitan Life Insurance company building .
At the corner of Irving Place and East 19th Street, you'll find this 14 story apartment building designed by George Pelham, decorated with fabulous terra-cotta gargoyles. It was built in 1929-1930.
Our tour passed by this building without a mention but I went back to take a closer look because of my affection for gargoyles, this building had a number of very fine ones including the impish fellow in the attached photo.
I did a walking tour with Big Onion tours of the Union Square/Gramercy Park area.
Gramercy Park is the only private city park remaining in New York City. If you live on the square surrounding the park you get a key to the gates, if not you get to be like me and peer at the park through the wrought iron fence.
From the 1850s-1870s, Gramercy Park was a fashionable place to live. After the elevated railroad was placed nearby in 1878, it lost a bit of it's status but in the 1980s, it once again became a fashionable place to live, home to celebrities although our guide didn't tell us which ones, I guess academics aren't concerned with such things!
For some more photos and info see the travelogue.
Union Square, a hangout for drug dealers and the homeless during the 1960s and 70s, has been cleaned up and renovated, the square lined with shops and restaurants and home to a Greenmarket several days a week. During the holiday season, there is also one of the city's Christmas markets in the square.
The accompanying picture is of a statue of George Washington's triumphant return to New York City on November 25, 1783, said to be the finest equestrian statue in the country.
The Big Onion tour of Union Square and Gramercy Park started here, you can find more pictures in my travelogue.
Broadway between Madison and Union Squares has some interesting examples of cast-iron commercial architecture from the turn of the 20th century, often passed over enroute to more "interesting" destinations.
We decided to walk to Centruy 21 from lower midtown...we have no idea how long we walked but we passed through Gramercy District, Greenwich Village, Soho and Tribeca District into Lower Manhattan. I can only say the best way to see New york is to WALK!!!!
We walked 57 blocks....the best walk ever - stopped for coffee in Greenwich village....met some lovely people. What more can I say!!!
Union Square Greenmarket, largest farmer's market in NYC. Held every Mon, Wed, Fri & Sat in Union Square (14th & Broadway). Worth the visit to see fresh locals sorting through fresh local produce. Grab some of the delicious food and have a picnic in Union Square (small park next to market) or walk down Broadway to Washington Square. The lilacs for sale here in May are the sweetest smelling in the city. So I took a photo of my sweet husband holding those sweet flowers, even though he looks doofy in this photo, I decided to add it.
There are so many little parks and squares strewn around NYC. For example, this is a picture of Union Square Park (between 14th and 16th St, and Broadway and Park Ave South). They always seem to attract interesting people, so if you find yourself passing through one try not to get caught up in the stressed out hustle and bustle of the city. Sit down and check things out.
These mystery numbers are above the Virgin Megastore at Union Square. Can you guess what these 15 digits stand for?